FDYS is committed to ensuring that Restorative Practices are interwoven in the way we work with each other, the way we work with young people, the way we work with families and the way we work with community.

We are dedicated to building relationships and repairing harm. Together through practice we endeavour to reach the highest restorative standard.  




 Restorative Practices

Restorative Practices is an evidence-based, very well researched and proven method of actively and consistently building and maintaining relationships.  It is also a proven way of resolving conflict in a healthy manner when conflict happens, as well as repairing the harm that is a result of conflict.

In Ireland Restorative Practices was first introduced in the North in the early 1990s in the form of Family Group Conferences, and over time it filtered down through Donegal and Dublin where schools and Youth Services were the first to be trained.

What is Restorative Practices?

Restorative Practices is a philosophy, a movement, a message.  It is, however (and it is important to stress this point) not a brand new, contemporary concept. Restorative Practices hails from the indigenous peoples of the world: the Maori; the Aborigines; the Native Americans.  In a world more in tune with its surroundings, they sat in circles, dealt with their problems as one and searched for solutions together.  We are now in a world out of tune with its surroundings, trying to reconnect with this ancient, communal ethos of working our way from wrongdoing into wellbeing.  We are trying to become “restored”.

Restorative Practices evolved from Restorative Justice.  Ted Watchel in his book Real Justice (1997) tells us that “Restorative justice is a movement that developed in North America in the 1970s with the advent of victim-offender reconciliation programmes.” Howard Zehr writes in the The Little Book of Restorative Justice


“restorative justice” encompasses a variety of programs and practices, at its core it is a set of principles, a philosophy, an alternate set of “guiding questions.” Ultimately restorative justice provides an alternative framework for thinking about wrongdoing (Zehr, 2003).


Like all important evolutionary leaps, it was both a natural and necessary progression to apply a restorative approach to wrongdoing within varying communities, and a conscious attitude to living that can be interwoven in myriad ways into our lives came into being.  Ted Watchel in A Paper Presented at the First World Congress on Restorative Juvenile Justice writes,


We use the term “restorative practices” to describe the larger field, that include not only responses, but also proactive strategies of prevention – such as extensive use of circles in school classrooms aimed at developing relationships and creating a sense of community among young people and staff – often called social capital (2009).


The Restorative Practices approach is not exclusive to specific communities, such as school environments. On the contrary, it is particularly inclusive of all kinds of communities, including work environments and the family home.


We do not have to wait for a problem to materialise before a restorative practices approach is applied.  Ted Watchel’s succinct phrase “proactive strategies of prevention” (2009) very aptly and simply encapsulates the heartbeat or pulse of what Restorative Practices means.  By being restorative now, in the moment, we can head trouble off at the pass, before it reaches that point of no return.

This way of seeking to be preventative rather than curative involves a consistent adherence to the actual practice of Restorative Practices.  It is about being aware, being mindful that every encounter potentially provides the opportunity to limber and exercise our restorative muscles.  This is exemplified by the Restorative Practices Continuum which slides from informal responses, primarily through the use of affective statements and restorative questions to the more formal responses of full-scale conferencing. When we inhabit the informal end of the continuum, we are demonstrating Restorative Practices in its most accessible form and by doing so we begin to provide a potential catalyst for possible attitudinal change.

Restorative Practices embodies a way of being which requires consistent proactive responses to working with individuals, families and communities to try to restore a fragmented and dis-connected society, through building our relationships and “repairing the harm” (Zehr, 1990).


Restorative Practices and FDYS – Overview


Aim of Restorative Practices

The aim of restorative practices is to develop community and to manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm and building relationships.

Restorative Practice is a philosophy that ought to guide the way we act in all our dealings.


The Four Key Elements of Restorative Practices

For Restorative Practice to be ‘explicit’, it needs to actively integrate:

  1. Social Discipline Window
  2. Fair Process
  3. Restorative Questions/Language
  4. Free Expression of Emotions


Timeline of Restorative Practices in FDYS

Since 2010 the Slaney Youth Justice Project has been practicing restoratively with young people and parents in Enniscorthy and Gorey.  Restorative conversations and circles have been instrumental in helping to guide the relationship between the Project and the young people who are at risk of first- time or further involvement in harmful behaviours.

Toward the end of 2016, the FDYS team in Enniscorthy began to embrace a Restorative way of working together.  At present, five members of the team are fully trained Restorative Practitioners and Circle Keepers.

In 2017, an FDYS Restorative Practices Working Group was formed.  This group consists of management representatives, members of the senior team and two Youth Justice Workers. Three members of the Group have Level 8 in Restorative Practices with Carlow IT.  The group meets each month and their role is to help to steer the implementation of Restorative Practices throughout FDYS.


In December 2017, FDYS Board of Management ratified the following Restorative Practices Mission Statement:
















In February to March 2017, 15 members of staff from a range of disciplines such as childcare, youth and community, support services and management participated in a one day introduction to Restorative Practices.  An important element of this introduction day was to provide an opportunity for those involved to take part in the process of implementing Restorative Practices throughout FDYS.  The following input from staff clearly conflates the ideas incorporated in the four key elements of Restorative Practices and serves as a valued contribution to the ongoing Restorative journey of FDYS:



What can you do in your practices to be more restorative?


  1. Trust the approach will be adopted fully and effectively
  2. Practice approach to keep it FRESH* (core values) and improve techniques
  3. Be mindful of restorative practices approach
  4. Listen, question effectively, be non-judgemental
  5. Encourage participation and engagement by promoting safe space
  6. Adopt restorative practices in meetings
  7. Adopt restorative practices as part of culture of organisation
  8. Ask management to support restorative practices being adopted fully


What can you do to help your organisation to become restorative?


  1. Lead by example
  2. Theory to practise = children/parents/staff
  3. Build good support systems
  4. Encourage others to participate in restorative training
  5. Be the voice for your organisation
  6. Follow up workshops


How can you develop a strong and sustainable collective approach to restorative practices?


  1. Ensuring that its understood and lead by the board of directors
  2. Ensuring that this is followed through at management level
  3. The management to ensure that the concept of restorative practices is cascaded down in the organisation to staff and volunteers
  4. Restorative language to be used and people to always be aware of restorative practises in working situations
  5. Programme of ongoing restorative practices training is available to all
  6. Independent third party person on FDYS restorative practises committee
  7. Development of restorative practises employees group advisory


What do you need from us (Trainers)?


  1. Mandatory training in restorative practises across all the organisations including board
  2. Ongoing support with issues
  3. Regular updated training refresher
  4. Time frame for complete implementation


                              *Fairness    Respect    Engagement    Safety    Honesty





Equally, the RP work already undertaken in FDYS is a clear indication of the positive forward momentum of the embedding process:



Current Context within FDYS:


  • FDYS is currently in the process of developing a Restorative Practices approach within the organisation.
  • To date 7 members of staff  have been fully trained as Restorative Practitioners(IIRP)
  • 15 members of staff have received one-day Introduction to RP training(IIRP)
  • 1 member of staff is a qualified Restorative Practices trainer
  • 3 members of staff have obtained Level 8 in Restoratives Practices(Carlow IT)
  • A Restorative Practices Working Group meets monthly to help steer the implementation of RP throughout the organisation
  • Restorative Practices section has been added to the FDYS website and is currently being updated with relevant information and content
  • 1 member of staff is also part of the Wexford Restorative Practices Partnership WRPP (established in late 2015).
  • Team circle meetings
  • Slaney Project RP approach
  • Follow-up workshops for new Practitioners


And our Restorative journey continues:


Ongoing RP Opportunities for FDYS include:


  • The roll out of RP training events in 2018
  • Restorative Practices Handbook (developed by Mailyn Venn, Youth Justice Worker, Slaney Project)
  • Workshops – Topic Specific
  • Support circles
  • Individual support
  • Community of Practice
  • Research
  • Networking with our Restorative colleagues locally and nationally
  • Membership of Restorative Practices Working Group
  • Website
  • Worth V Waste Chart (to help record RP work and impacts and cultivate important and invaluable social capital)
  • RP Statement placement in all FDYS Projects
  • RP poster placement in all FDYS Projects


For further information contact Terry O’Neill (Youth Justice Worker, Slaney Project).

Mobile: 087 935 1764

Email: terry.oneill@fdys.ie