Restoring life chances


In the last blog I was full of enthusiasm for England’s chances in the World Cup. As we all know they made a pretty swift exit. Despite all the negative press they received, at least they tried. Both of their defeats were marginal and in the end only one team will win.

As the great Charlie Chaplin once said:

‘Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself’.

The England team might feel a tad embarrassed. However, they can now go on holiday and return to their clubs and carry on with their careers.

Not all children are going to be top of the class. Not all children will be fortunate enough to be born into a family that values education. Moreover, not all children will be fortunate enough to have a family or a stable environment.

Over the years I have worked with many Children who are Looked After (CLA) Often they were moved out of area. Sometimes they had complex needs and unenviable backgrounds. Nevertheless, like all young people they want attention.  They need positive role models, they also need and deserve a good education.

The fact is, many of our CLA are not all given these very basic requirements.

Even more worrying is that they can quite easily become criminalised whilst in the CLA System.

If a young person who lives at home, challenges the authority of their parents through breaking property in the home (criminal damage) or physically pushing a parent (assault) then it is often dealt with in house.

Sadly when this happens in a CLA home it is often dealt with through the Criminal Justice System. This can result in a criminal record, which can have far reaching effects on life chances. For instance, a 12 year old girl who physically assaults a care worker will have to declare this in later life when applying for a job.  Therefore many adults who were once CLA are prevented from working in that field.

Surely it is time to review the way that young people are criminalised. We all make mistakes, especially when we are young.

The England team can now move on.  They still have their jobs and there will be another World Cup.

Lets use Restorative Approaches so that our young people get the chance to move on.

I’ll be in London next month working with a group of CLA. The venue is where a young Charlie Chaplin was brought up in a workhouse.  I love my job.

The World Cup of Restorative Practice

Hi Everybody,

As the World Cup rears its beautiful head, (or not so beautiful head for some of you).  There is much excitement and expectation in the air for England to perform well in Brazil.

Whatever your views are on football there is no getting away from the fact that it is a universally recognised sport, an international language for both males and females. Recent research shows that football is the most popular sport for girls in the UK.

There are few people in the world who have not heard of Pele, Finney, Beckham, Rooney, Ronaldo or Messi.

Moreover, as I often explain when I deliver training for Writing Wrongs, Football along with other team sports is a restorative process.

How can football, hockey, netball etc be described as a restorative process? I hear you ask.  Bear with me and I’ll explain.

Football is 90 mins of conflict.  Before the match both teams come out and warm up on their own side of the pitch. At the start of the match the arbitrator ie the referee brings the two sides together and the match begins until the referee blows the final whistle there is an outcome. Win, lose or draw, both sides shake hands and move on.

Using this analogy is a great way of explaining the restorative process to young people.  Anybody who currently uses Writing Wrongs will be aware that we use a sports theme.  However, many YOT’s are adapting it as an arts based Programme.

I recently worked on a UNITAS Arts College.  I was lead practitioner and we used Writing Wrongs as a framework for behaviour management. All the young people who attended were open to the YOT. We didn’t want to just promote the arts we also wanted to educate the young people and show thaem that any negative behaviour or outlooks can have a detrimental effect on their life chances and on those around them.

All the young people on the Arts College learned photography, screen-printing, poetry and radio broadcasting.  More importantly, throughout the College they completed sessions of Writing Wrongs which enabled them to take a much more positive approach towards their day.  We started and ended each day with circle time which I believe is one of the best ways in which to evaluate a session. I’m happy to report that all the young people who attended the course achieved an award.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, some time ago I wrote a poetry writing resource and a rhyming dictionary for the National Football Museum.  Here it is.  Please have fun with it.  Please get in touch if you would like me to give a presentation on Writing Wrongs or contact me to purchase a pack and training.  By the time I write my next blog I hope that I will be strutting around with chest puffed out and head held high after watching England lift the World Cup. Now that would be a great outcome.

Andy Winters

To download the free resource, please click the link below. Poetry Resource