Key findings from research into the pandemic and its effects on mental health, gender-based violence (GBV), hate crime and immigration have been published, following a two-day global conference held in London at Middle Temple on 24th and 25th of January.
Run by international user-led NGO Restorative Justice For All (RJ4ALL) and funded by Erasmus+, this CPD certified conference saw 148 delegates from 22 countries discuss and reveal research from three key projects, Chance for Change: Empowerment & Restoration, the Mental Health Matters (MHM) project and the Restoring Respect Project (RRP).
The findings from the research projects followed a report this week which reveals 50% of families now require mental health support for their children following the numerous lockdowns.
The pandemic has also had a major impact on gender-based violence (GBV) within the UK, with a 65% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline reported between April and June 2020.
Key outputs from the research included implementation of the GBV Youth Workers’ Competences Framework and Competence Self-Assessment Tool, to help youth workers better identify and prevent GBV within young people. It also introduced a new tool for mental health workers based on the concept of Restorative Justice Art as well as free ecourses forand mental health therapies and the recognition and certification of skills and competences of migrants and refugees in Europe.
Sir Bob Neill MP for Bromley & Chislehurst, Chairman Justice Select Committee, RJ4All Patron said: ‘COVID19 along with the many health and socio-economic challenges presented us with new forms of violence. The RJ4All International Institute is responding to an urgent need for evidence based policy reforms by holding this international conference. I am happy to support them as one of their Patrons and a keynote speaker.’
Victims, users of the justice system and practitioners who attended the conference were able to participate in a live consultation that RJ4All will be using to influence the UK Victims Bill. At the event, the Chair of the Justice Select Committee of the House of Commons expressed an interest in hearing this evidence in Parliament.
The conference chair, Professor Theo Gavrielides, founder and director at RJ4ALL, said: ‘Over the past decade, we have unfortunately been experiencing a global climate of financial, medical and educational segregation, with the richest amongst us growing in wealth and opportunity, whilst the poor get poorer. The pandemic we’re navigating has undoubtedly driven even more of a division; further accelerating health and wealth inequalities, which is why we feel it’s so important we look to tackle these global issues through the lens of restorative justice. The RJ4All International Conference explored both practical and attainable solutions that respect an individuals’ autonomy, and it was wonderful to see so many delegates there and engaging with the research.’
According to RJ4All, Restorative justice is an ethos and practice of redistributing power in order to achieve social justice, creating equity and promoting community voice, in response to the distrust many vulnerable and marginalised communities feel towards governmental bodies.
RJ4All aims to achieve this by implementing and carrying out educational projects, e-courses, training programmes and internships, helping to build bridges between communities and power, and providing advice on social justice matters.
The organisation also has a community hub, The RJ4All Rotherhithe Community Centre, offering a food-bank, a community fridge, free sport classes, a community library, COVID-19 tests and educational workshops to children, young people and professionals. Gavrielides’ vision is to make SE16 where RJ4All is based the first London restorative justice postcode.
The organisation was also able offer bursaries of up to €400 to help non-UK based participants attend the event to help cover the cost of attending.
The learnings and outcomes of the conference can be found here.