Working together and staying safe – a restorative approach

Primary interest
Families and Parenting

Louise Carrington-Dye is the Restorative Practice Co-ordinator for Brighter Futures for Children. Here she offers her thoughts on how the principles of restorative practice can help us at this time.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many organisations and people’s lives and I wanted to reach out to our staff and partners at this time to remind you of the importance of relationships. We become embroiled in our own daily worries about how we can negotiate our daily responsibilities and our own needs with so many restrictions and can sometimes forget those who may not have support or are silently struggling. With this in mind, I wanted to remind you of the principles of restorative practices and how we can work restoratively at this time .


Try to adapt your processes and interventions to suit the particular time, event or family you are working with. Think about that time when you may have spoken to someone in a ‘short’ way or not completed something you promised. Maybe you don’t understand why a parent, child or colleague seems to be displeased with you. Think about having a restorative conversation with them to clear the air. Ask the question: are you ok?


Think about this word and what it means – essentially free will. Just because you have a target that you need completing and have set a date for this, maybe others involved in making this happen aren’t in the right place. What is right for you may not be right for them. Ask the question: is there anything you need to support you in this?


Humans are prone to be behaviour-led. Try to approach your work and social expectations with your own ‘bias’ in mind. Consider whether you could adapt the way you enter into negotiations. Ask the question: is there anything I can do differently?


This is probably one of the most used words at this time but what does it mean? To us, simply, it means creating a safe space for what you need to do, and for others around you. Consider the stressors that our families/colleagues may be experiencing. Sensitivity to mental health is  important in any case but so much more at this time. Self-care is also a key element of how you will be able to carry out your own responsibilities. Risk assessment is a must, but maybe assess for the ‘unknown’ that may not be obvious at this time. Ask the question: is this the right time to have this conversation or to assess whether actions are completed?


We have all had to adapt how we work, shop and socialise, and this has been, more often than not, without tangible interaction. While we are all adapting to life in a virtual way, consider those who cannot or who find it extremely difficult. At this time, safety is a key element, but if we don’t think of how to adapt our ways of keeping in touch, we are not observing the equally important principle of accessibility. Ask the question: am I doing everything I can to keep in touch? Check in and have a virtual cuppa with your family/young person.


Respect that others may have different views to yourself and let them know that this is ok! Again, consider bias, but also power and control. One of the many skills required of a practitioner is the ability to conduct an often highly emotional process in a neutral and measured fashion, and respect is key to delivering restorative interventions in this way. Ask the question: am I entering this with a completely neutral view, and can I engage with this family/young person in a fair and equal way? Obviously while incorporating safety, neutrality, accessibility and restoring in a voluntary way.

I hope this has helped you to think about things is an open and equal way and please remain safe and check in on yourself one in a while. We are not super humans. Coming soon: the social discipline window and how we can work within this.

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