Why me? are the only national charity fighting for victims of crime to have access to Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice empowers victims of crime to communicate with the offender, through a face to face meeting where appropriate. This gives them the chance to talk about the impact of the crime, seek answers about why it happened and have their voices heard. Many victims of crime feel excluded, confused and revictimized by the criminal justice process. Restorative Justice can change this.
We spoke to the team at Why me? about the changes and adaptations to service delivery due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Why me? has been known to the Foundation since 2017 when they first received a 3 year Major Grant to fund a new Business Development Manager role. As an organisation, they have been engaged and active RankNet members ever since.
Why me?’s work focuses on two key areas. One is providing Restorative Justice, which they do through their own Restorative Justice service. Anyone is free to get in touch to explore whether a restorative process is best for them and if Why me? are best placed to facilitate it. Their work also focuses on campaigning for the greater use of Restorative Justice. This strand of their work includes policy development, lobbying Government, spreading best practice, engaging with the Restorative Justice sector and helping to perfect the use of restorative practices for under-used crime types: such as hate crime. They have seven hard working, part time staff and a dedicated team of trustees, restorative facilitators and ambassadors who have lived experience of being victims of crime.
During lockdown, Why me? have prioritised communication within the Restorative Justice sector highly. They now send out a weekly newsletter, and hold forums on different issues for people working in Restorative Justice to attend. These include Why me?’s regular forums but also one-off forums on important subjects, such as an upcoming Restorative Listening forum for BAME people to talk about racism they have experienced from the police and justice system. These events are all part of a growing online “Restorative Hub” which Why me? are seeking to develop, with the help of funding from the Rank Foundation.
We asked the team about the challenges they have faced during this difficult period. They explained:
“One of our key aims is to influence policy makers, and this is difficult during a time when the Government have so many urgent priorities. Restorative practice has a part to play in a number of problems facing the country: it could help to address the backlog in the courts, guide the police on how to carefully police new COVID laws, and be part of the healing process as the country returns to health. But our ability to have these representations heard is diminished at the moment, due to the focus on the emergency response to the pandemic. We have also had financial struggles during this period, like most small charities, but we are doing everything we can to overcome them.”
However, it would appear that the service users at Why me? have responded well, and the organisation said they were heartened by how restorative providers around the country have engaged with their online forums. Aided by Why me?’s ability to share best practice, restorative services across the country have learned to operate remotely, giving victims of crime the opportunity to engage remotely in Restorative Justice if they wish to. Some participants have been keen to continue with their restorative processes remotely, while others have preferred to wait until face to face meetings are possible again.
If you would like to contact the team at Why me? for more information, you can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org