Engagement is Key and other thoughts from the UCLAN conference

Earlier this month I was privileged to deliver a workshop and sit on a Q and A panel at UCLANS inaugural RJ conference.

It was well attended by a diverse group of professionals who work with children and adults along with the academics who try to make sense of Restorative approaches.

There was plenty of food for thought for the academics to get stuck into.

Could RJ be used as an online app to resolve issues?  From Cyber bullying to Cyber Resolution.  ‘Never say never’, is my motto (actually its one of my many mottos) However, RJ, at the conference stage is a very powerful, emotional, human interaction. It could be argued that Cyber Resolution (you heard it here first) could be used in very low-key incidents. Nevertheless, the act of resolution involves empathy, decision making and a great deal of preparation. Moreover it requires both parties to pluck up the courage to face their fears. A click of a button requires no more than well………… a click of a button.

Also on the panel were Geraldine Martin from Cumbria and Lancashire Probation and Melissa MacFarlane, who met her brothers killer through an RJ conference.  They have produced a short film which focuses on Melissa’s journey through the restorative process.  For anybody that thinks RJ is a soft option this film will convince you otherwise.  Geraldine and Melissa facilitated a workshop and screened the film. It certainly created a buzz. Here is a link to the Cumbria and Lancashire website where you can view the film. What a powerful story: www.clcrc.com

Our workshop focused on engagement and creativity. The three key points that emerged from the session were: Interaction, humour and engagement.  I worked with Resource Creatives, a company which uses the arts as an engagement tool. They were commissioned by Lancashire Constabulary to go into primary schools to talk about the dangers of joining gangs. We worked with over one thousand yr 5 and 6 pupils over full morning or afternoon sessions.  To get the message accross, requires a great deal of skill and knowledge of the subject.  However, keeping the audience engaged is just as important. We use storytelling and the odd magic trick.  Our sessions use restorative approaches as a preventative measure. Here are some of the comments from head teachers:

“Very well delivered. Length and timing just right for most of the children” Mr Entwistle Head of St Augustins Primary

“The children were immediately engaged by the enthusiasm of the people leading it” Mr Mitchell Head of Penwortham Priory

“Fantastic workshop. Thank you” Head of Yr 6 Kennington School

“Fun, entertaining. Well cool” Children from Lea Primary School

“Helped self-esteem. Made pupils think more about what they are good at and how they can be even better” Mrs Dornan Head of Ingol CP School

If you would like training on engagement techniques, Arts based RJ sessions or the Writing Wrongs Programme please get in touch.