How do people experience using restorative practice at work?
Dec 29, 2010
The Goodwin Development Trust is a registered charity situated in the heart of Kingston-upon-Hull (www.goodwintrust.org).
Created over fifteen years ago by the residents of the city’s Thornton Estate with the intention of improving local living conditions, the Trust now manages a diverse range of projects.
Goodwin became interested in restorative practice nearly five years ago and has trained all of its 300 employees in restorative approaches. More recently the Trust formed a relationship with the Hull Centre for Restorative Practices and the University of Hull’s law department.
In May 2009 we secured two years funding from the National Lottery to undertake research into people’s experience of using restorative practice in their working environment. Two fulltime researchers were appointed by the Trust to conduct the research project using qualitative methods, such as interviews and focus groups, in order to understand and interpret how people experience the implementation and use of restorative practice in the workplace.
.... At the same time, the use of circles and conferences is having a major impact on the way the participants interact with each other as colleagues. A prominent experience amongst the participants is an improvement in communication. Work based meetings are now more enjoyable, people learn more about their colleagues and work problems are now solved by the whole team, so that individuals are not left to suffer pressure of meeting targets without support.
Participants state that restorative circles give them a voice and create a greater depth of understanding within their teams. For example, in the children’s homes, employees have ‘check-in’ and ‘check-out’ circles every shift where they discuss what happened on the shift and how they feel the shift went. Crucially, this allows staff to know which colleagues and children may require extra support. Importantly, for the first time, the children living in the homes also participate in these circles, so they too have a voice in meetings that may result in decisions which impact on their lives. In the community worker group, employee conflicts are solved using circles and work based problems are discussed in a way that provides the whole team with an opportunity to offer solutions to problems.