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September '22 - RJ Team Update

Updated: Aug 8


We are Elisa, Caitlin, and Khadijah, and we make up the RJ Team at Thriving Survivors.

Currently, we have been undertaking lots of training, focusing on relevant theory, research, and practice skills of RJ, and applying the theory into practice by using scenarios, from RJ professionals. We will discuss the training below:

Firstly, we undertook Foundational Training delivered by Tim Chapman. This training has been pivotal in providing insight into the exploration of the depth and layers of the delivery of RJ and confidence within ourselves to become facilitators. Tim took us through a series of simple and valuable exercises which illustrated the need for humility and neutrality amongst other qualities necessary to become an RJ facilitator. We played out a scenario that demonstrated the delicacy and complexity of an RJ meeting/ conference. The 4 days of training emphasised how much work has to be carried out, to ensure this service can become available for cases of sexual harm and domestic abuse within Scotland.

“An extremely engaging and insightful course with excellent quality of content. It offered a nice balance of theory and practice, supported by concise handouts and easy-to-follow practical tools that can be used for future reference as we face challenging situations. The course was presented in an enthusiastic and practical way, with lots of opportunities to ask questions and talk about real-life examples which all made for a really enjoyable and informative course.”

Secondly, we concluded training on Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB), delivered by David Russell (The Community Justice Manager at Midlothian Council). This training explored the idea of sexual harm and drew subtle but important distinctions between healthy sexual behaviour and that which may cause harm. We looked at some really useful models in exploring this concept including Hackett’s sexual behaviour continuum (2010). One thing which was particularly interesting from this experience is how outdated the law is surrounding these crimes. Furthermore, the lack of awareness within the education system and amongst practitioners in drawing the line between what is healthy, inappropriate, and HSB. We also briefly considered autism and several misunderstandings within this area which someone may wrongfully consider as HSB.

“It was very insightful, I learned that there were so many paraphilias, and how many dimensions of HSB there are, that I would not have otherwise considered”.

Thirdly, we completed the Intermediate training delivered by Gael Cochrane and Fiona Cameron. This was built upon training delivered by Tim and focused heavily on the needs of both the person harmed (PH) and the person responsible for harm (PRH). These needs set out what was required from a facilitator and/or any other individuals involved in supporting these individuals. We continued the use of practice scenarios and focused on being impartial by acting as a third party to support the conversation between the PH and PRH. We used certain exercises to practice skills including listening and being attentive to an individual's tone and emotion. Our scenarios consisted of circles, including a ‘talking piece’ being passed around.

“I have enjoyed all the training so far! Because the concept is very new, each day provides us with a different take. So I do feel the more we attend the further understanding we take from the material. Intermediate was good to get an example of what the circles will look like and I’m looking forward to gaining a better understanding of this – which sounds like we might at this next discussion.”

Further, we have completed the ‘MyRJ’ training delivered by Andrew Robbins. This training focused on the database we will use to store and manage cases to deliver our RJ services. Security has been taken very seriously in its design where all data is secure and protected. Information is only accessible to those who are directly concerned/ involved. The software is easy to use and allows us to capture important data.

"The RJ case management software training was really insightful. The system itself will be invaluable as we launch our RJ services. The system provides easy but fully secure access for partners and it's super easy to use!"

We will be commencing Specialist Training at the end of October which will take us right through to December. This training will comprise of specialists within the field conducting sessions on; Harmful Sexual Behaviour, Sibling Sexual Abuse, and risk assessing RJ in cases of sexual harm for example. All staff will undergo six months of intensive training, to confidently identify and assess risks. If the risk is deemed too high, the case will not proceed, however, there will be other avenues to allow the survivor to continue their journey, including ‘wraparound’ support, from the minute they engage.

Moreover, working groups collaborate with the advisory board, which consists of a variety of individuals from different organisations with vast knowledge, skills and expertise in RJ and sexual harm. Three main areas of development are Risk and Policy, Evaluation and Monitoring, and Service Development.

The working group values lived experiences of survivors and aim to take forward their comments and views to provide a safe, accessible, trauma-informed, and inclusive service, providing various approaches such as direct and indirect RJ, restorative healing circles, a secondary harm service and restorative storytelling.

Currently, we are working through each model and adapting current research and models to adapt to our own Thriving Survivors RJ models. All 4 services will be carried out in safe environments, following Judith Herman’s ‘3 stages of recovery', which will be implemented throughout each service and all parts of the process.

Furthermore, we are mapping out a plan as to how we will monitor and evaluate each service. This will consist of identifying the audience we want to evaluate, measuring the successes of the project, and considering what perhaps did not work and what needs to be adapted, how well the project met the needs of the participants, and ultimately whether the project led to satisfactory outcomes of the process. The data will be collected in 3 stages, 4 months, 8 months, and 12 months to grasp a good measure of the effects of each service.

We will be back in October with a further update!

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