The successful use of restorative practice to repair harm in a supported accommodation project
Anti-social behaviour and crime significantly harmed a supported accommodation project. The manager of the project and the Community Safety Casework Team (CSCT) worked collaboratively using restorative approaches to repair the harm.
Six months before initial contact with CSCT the housing provider was working with a resident who had been harming other residents. The interventions had successfully stopped his bullying behaviour & noise nuisance, and had enabled him to complete a training course.
The supported accommodation project’s organisation has been embedding restorative practice, which is a way of repairing the harm caused and enabling behaviour change by helping people understand the impact of their behaviour on others. Additionally, the local authority has an expectation that all supported housing providers will develop a psychologically informed environment (PIE) and an understanding of the impact of trauma on their residents.
In May 2017 the resident met a new group of people who began exploiting his home to deal drugs. The manager of the project contacted the CSCT duty service for advice on how to address this.
The CSCT duty officer used restorative questions to identify what had been happening, what the impact has been and what needs to happen to put things right. The project informed us that their residents were being repeatedly woken up and affected by constant partying and being threatened by visitors to the project. This was causing these residents and staff to feel unsafe & scared for their safety. It was agreed that the project would speak with residents and staff to identify further harm and improve reporting. Because of the harm caused to all the staff and residents it was agreed that the CSCT would facilitate a restorative circle meeting with residents and staff, and offer a support intervention meeting with the anti-social resident using the PIE model.
The CSCT wrote to everyone living and working in the housing project to invite them to a meeting. The letter explained that the CSCT was aware of the drug dealing and associated anti-social behaviour, and that there was an action plan in place to address this. The use of a restorative circle was intended to help improve the resilience and the community spirit in the project. This is an alternative way of structuring a residents meeting that aims to remove all pre-existing hierarchy and group dynamics. The circle enables each person an opportunity to speak about their subjective experience, whilst also offering them a space to listen to others. The circle is a collaborative and inclusive model that is solution focused.
We used the circle to problem solve what else needed to be done. The circle meant that we all could listen to the harm caused to everyone, including the staff. The project community were all responsible for drawing up the action plan. This helped demonstrate that we are all part of the community and part of the solution, and gave the plan authority. The plan was for the door security procedures to be followed by everyone, and everyone present would use informal methods to discuss door security and why it was important with people not able to attend the meeting. The manager wrote a letter to everyone and the CSCT wrote a notice to be placed prominently on the communal entrance.
Restorative Support Intervention Meeting
The support and intervention model is best practice as part of the Psychological Informed Environment approach. This was used for the meeting with the resident whose flat had been taken over. By using the restorative questions the session was about problem solving, not confrontation. The model gives responsibility to the resident for their behaviour and highlights their strengths and choices. The resident was advised of different options and they came up with a plan that worked for them. The resident owned their action plan and was motivated to achieve it. The meeting also helped develop their problem solving skills.
The resident agreed to a planned move to a project with more staff. This would mean that his home would be secure from the drug dealers. The resident also felt that when he was at college or working he was less likely to use drugs or be noisy in his flat. He identified the need to go back to college and speak to a careers adviser about getting some part time work. The resident recognised that his positive relationship with his keyworker means he is less likely end up being street homeless and that his ability to work with staff had led to positive changes for him.
Case closure and outcomes
The action plan was completed in a month so the case was closed in July 2017.
There was a significant reduction in the reports of drug dealing in the wider community. There were no further reports of anti-social behaviour at the housing project.
The community could see the benefit of making reports, targeting resources and devising action plans
The resident was part of a planned move-on which was not punitive or costly due to legal processes
The use of the restorative circle helped the project repair the harm that people within it felt. The staff were supported and empowered and used their wide range of skills to tackle the problem and achieve a positive outcome.
Feedback from those involved
Positive feedback from staff and their managers on the involvement of the CSCT and on how well the restorative approach had prevented an eviction and improved the community spirit.
Positive feedback from the residents via the staff that they felt safer and happier.
The restorative circle helped ensure a comprehensive plan is in place with a plan tailored the specific project.
The work helped save money. The CSCT used fewer resources than might have previously if the team had delivered on-going casework to an individual causing harm.