Role of the Community in RJC
RJC operates within a strong ethos of community engagement. The project was formed in 1999 with a voluntary Board of Management comprised of various community interests who have overseen the running of the project ever since. We also recruit, train and maintain a panel of community volunteers in each of the communities in which we work.
Community volunteers play an important role in the restorative process, particularly with regard to offences which do not have an identifiable victim or in circumstances where the community itself is the victim such as public order offences, damage to public property etc. In these circumstances community volunteers attend a restorative panel meeting with the offender. The panel comes together to discuss the offence and how to repair the harm caused with a view to agreeing the steps needed to make amends. This agreement is called the Contract of Reparation.
The formation of the Contract of Reparation shows the offender’s commitment to make amends to the persons / community affected by the offence and to address the factors leading to the commission of the offence.
Community volunteers bring a plurality of perspectives to the table and can empathise and establish a rapport with participants in a way that highlights their interconnectedness to the community. Furthermore their involvement highlights the concept that crime harms a community and that the community itself should play a part in resolving the conflict.
In facilitating and supporting the Contract of Reparation our relationship with the communities that we work in is vital. Community groups facilitate offenders in making amends to the community by welcoming their help: for example many of our participants would volunteer their time with local Tidy Towns Groups, Community Gardens, Community Resource Centres, Local Charity Shops etc- all with a view to giving something back to the community and making reparation.