What does a restorative society look like?

node leader
Author: 
Jon Collins
Date: 
27 July 2015

At the RJC, our vision is that everyone should live in a genuinely restorative society. But what would this really mean in practice? Would it be like everyone moving to Hull (figuratively at least), probably the best known restorative city? Or is there more to it than that?

There are lots of ways to make our day-to-day lives more restorative. Workplaces, schools, care homes and pretty much any institution that contains, well, people can be fully restorative. Restorative parenting is already an established approach. If used alongside restorative schooling it provides children with a consistent restorative environment in which to grow up and equips them with restorative language and interpersonal skills to carry into adult life. Restorative marriages aren’t, as far as I know, a thing, but they probably could be, and certainly marriage guidance and divorce mediation could benefit from a restorative slant.

What about public policy? HS2 is expected to begin to cut a destructive path through homes, gardens and the countryside in the not too distant future. Could the ensuing disputes between developers and homeowners be addressed restoratively? Surely there would be benefits to adopting this approach.

There are also trials underway for using restorative practice in complaints against the police by members of the public, and even patients against doctors. Arguably any organisation dedicated to customer service would do well to consider restorative resolutions to negative feedback. Anyone who has had the misfortune to get into a dispute with, say, a large energy provider or phone company will appreciate how useful that might be.

These examples, plucked almost at random, demonstrate the potential to use restorative approaches much more widely in the way we deal with conflict. But what can we all do to bring that about? Clearly there is a role for politicians, policy makers and commissioners. But there is also a role for us all. There are thousands of restorative practitioners out there who are potential ambassadors for a broader use of restorative approaches. The first step, however, is to practice what you preach.

So what can we all do to make our lives more restorative?