Community Restorative Justice Ireland

Community Restorative Justice Ireland 

undefinedCommunity Restorative Justice Ireland is a grassroots community organisation which was initially founded in 1998 to address issues around informal policing using accessible, non-violent, and peaceful means. CRJI grew from a series of conversations between community members and individuals within the voluntary sector (for further information around this you can refer to CRJI’s foundational document ‘The Blue Book’ which is available on their website). CRJI then secured funding to launch a pilot programme in four locations across Belfast, delivering what was then viewed as a radical alternative approach to deal with punishment violence perpetrated by armed gangs.
 
Since then the charity’s work has expanded to meet the evolving needs within the local areas and to support and advocate on behalf of residents and vulnerable or at-risk individuals. CRJI has grown and developed and now has offices throughout Belfast, in Newry and South Armagh, Derry and Lurgan. CRJI collaborates closely with other organisations in the voluntary sector as well as statutory services such as PSNI, PBNI, NIHE, HSCT, etc.
 
CRJI aspires to build a tolerant, responsive, and inclusive community by providing restorative justice services to local areas. CRJI’s restoratively trained practitioners provide a range of support services with the aim of promoting positive ways to address conflict and improve community cohesion, for example, victim support services, offender reintegration and rehabilitation programmes, mediation services, drop- in advice clinics, youth mentoring, training, family support, victim support, intervention services etc.
 
CRJI is a recognised accredited community based restorative justice organisation which is inspected by the CJINI, are members of the Restorative Justice Council and adhere to high standards of work which has led the organisation to become internationally recognised in the field of restorative practices. 

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Whilst CRJI has developed over time, at the core of the organisation is a restorative ethos, which seeks to empower victims, offenders, and communities in processes where they strive to resolve and repair the damage caused by harm and conflict. CRJI’s central belief is that those affected by the harm should have the opportunity to participate in developing solutions which could help fix and repair this, thus encouraging respect, equality, accountability, inclusion, and reintegration.

CRJI are an accredited OCN centre and as restorative practices advocates, are passionate about disseminating learning around the ground-breaking work within the community restorative justice domain. CRJI have created a range of endorsed qualifications with the Open College Network and are continuing to progress and develop this menu of training. Currently CRJI offer a range of courses including:

  • OCN Level 1 Introduction to Restorative Justice in a Community Setting
  • OCN Level 2 Understanding Restorative Justice within a Community Setting
  • OCN Level 3 Understanding Theories of Restorative Justice within a Community Setting
  • OCN Level 2 Choices and Consequences Youth
  • OCN Level 2 Choices and Consequences Adults
  • OCN Level 2 Restorative Parenting
  • OCN Level 2 Introducing Restorative Practices in Educational Settings
  • OCN Level 1 Introduction to Restorative Conflict Resolution

A range of learners come through CRJI’s doors, there is no set criteria other than individuals who want to deepen their understanding of restorative justice. We welcome students of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life and encourage and embrace open discussions and perspectives on the topics covered. 

This year CRJI launched the STARS programme, (Striving Towards A Restorative Society), in partnership with NIA (Northern Ireland Alternatives), this project is funded by TEO and managed by Co-operation Ireland. STARS is delivered regionally in the following areas:

  • Carrick and Larne (with a focus on Northland & Castlemara and Antiville & Kilwaughter)
    Derry/ Londonderry (with a focus on Brandywell & Creggan)
  • North Down (with a focus on Kilcooley & Rathgill)
  • Lurgan/ Craigavon (with a focus on Drumgask & Kilwilkie)
  • East Belfast (with a focus on The Mount & Ballymacarrett)
  • North Belfast (with a focus on New Lodge & Greater Ardoyne)
  • Shankill (with a focus on Upper & Lower including Woodvale)
  • West Belfast (with a focus on Lower Falls, Twinbrook, Poleglass, Upper Springfield, Turf Lodge & Ballymurphy)

The STARS initiative aims to build the capacity of individuals and groups to affect positive change for themselves and their communities, through raising awareness of restorative practices and interventions. STARS offers 1;1 mentoring support, restorative training and a programme of activities which ultimately aspires to increase the use of restorative practices within these areas. 

This year CRJI have been supporting a wide range of learners from across the community and statutory sector to access free restorative training. For further information visit the website or contact project coordinator, Andrea McLoughlin via email at amcl@crjireland.org