Jo Berry, who became friends with the IRA man who killed her father in the Brighton hotel bombing, is backing an initiative by Angus Macpherson, the newly re-elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.
Mr Macpherson is seeking volunteers willing to be trained to bring victims of crime and offenders together in a process known as restorative justice.
Sir Anthony Berry, an MP in Margaret Thatcher’s government, was one of five people killed in the 1984 attack on the Grand Hotel during the party conference. Many other people were injured. Pat Magee served 14 years in jail for the bombing before being released early under the Good Friday agreement in 1999.
He agreed to meet Ms Berry – at her request – the following year. Since then they have shared platforms more than 150 times to speak about reconciliation. On the 25th anniversary of the bombing Ms Berry launched Building Bridges for Peace, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes peace and conflict resolution.
Mr Macpherson is setting up a new service called Restorative Together – Wiltshire and Swindon.
Restorative justice puts those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm in contact, enabling everyone affected to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
It is part of a wider approach known as restorative practice. Restorative practice can be used anywhere to prevent conflict, build relationships and repair harm by enabling people to communicate effectively and positively. This approach is increasingly being used in schools, children’s services, workplaces, hospitals, communities and the criminal justice system.
Mr Macpherson is looking for volunteers to become restorative justice facilitators.
He said: “I am delighted that Jo Berry has agreed to speak at the two meetings we are holding for potential volunteers. She has dedicated herself to conflict resolution and has shown extraordinary courage to meet and then become friends with the man who killed her father.
“She has a remarkable story to tell and I hope that people who believe they could fit the bill as restorative justice facilitators will come along to hear Jo Berry speak and to find out more about our plans.”
“The ideal people for the role are non-judgmental and fair minded with excellent listening skills who want to make a positive contribution to their community.”
After completing a three-day training course, it’s likely that the volunteers will be asked to take on up to three cases a year. Each case would involve about six to 15 hours spread over a number of weeks.
Volunteers will need to be 18 or over and to have excellent communication skills; willing to go through police vetting; able to remain impartial and to have the time available and be flexible enough to attend training and supervision as needed.
In return, says the Commissioner, volunteers will gain a number of benefits:
- Three day initial training course to become a level two restorative justice facilitator
- Continuing supervision with every case
- Opportunities for further training
- Skills and experience in the growing field of restorative justice
- An opportunity to work with professionals from police, probation and other organisations
- Being able to help victims deal with their experiences and move on
- Opportunities to facilitate interesting and challenging cases
- Being part of a process of resolving conflicts and creating safer communities
Mr Macpherson said: “I know from my voluntary work with the Filling Station charity for homeless people that volunteering can be immensely rewarding. It is clear to me that people who become restorative justice facilitators will gain in a number of ways.”
People who would like to find out more are warmly invited to come along to one of the open evenings at the following venues:
- Broadgreen Community Centre, Gladstone Street, Swindon SN1 2AU (main hall) on Tuesday May 24 at 7pm
- Wiltshire Police HQ, London Road, Devizes, SN10 2DN (Bay Window) on Wednesday June 8 at 7 pm
To apply to become a restorative justice facilitator, please go to www.wiltshire-pcc.gov.uk/Volunteering and select restorative justice facilitator from the drop-down menu. You can email your completed form to: firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively you can post it to Volunteer Co-ordinator, Wiltshire Police, London Road, Devizes SN10 2DN.
For more information about the role, please email email@example.com
For general information about restorative justice, go to restorativejustice.org.uk