Le Chéile Mentoring

A.     Service overview and contact details 

Focus of restorative justice activities 

Le Chéile Mentoring is a national organisation which works to make positive changes in the lives of young people who offend and their families, through the provision of mentoring, family support and restorative justice services. It works across 12 counties and its mentoring services are provided through a network of trained volunteers. Its restorative justice services are provided in Limerick, Clare and Kerry (as required) and include a Victim Empathy Programme, Reparation Programme, Victim-Offender Mediation, Victim Impact Panels and Restorative Justice Conferencing. Le Chéile staff also provide IIRP-approved training.

Year of commencement 

The Le Chéile Restorative Justice Project was established in 2010.

Service details

Le Chéile Mentoring 

Southill 

Limerick

Website:  https://lecheile.ie/category/what-we-do/restorative-justice/ 

Head of service 

Mary Henihan, Regional Manager, maryh@lecheile.ie, 087 0678336

Staffing structure

One restorative justice project officer (full time), supervised/supported by Regional Manager.

Staff training in restorative justice 

Le Chéile staff in the restorative justice project are IIRP-approved trainers.

Use of volunteers 

Volunteers have two main roles in supporting clients in the project:

  1. supporting the client to complete a reparation project; and,
  2. participating in victim impact panels, where they themselves have been victims of crime. 

A reparation project can be an outcome of a restorative justice conference or a direct piece of work identified by the referral agent. The volunteer supports the young person as they complete the piece of work that they have agreed to do to make amends and they confirm that the work is completed as agreed. 

Victim impact panels provide a forum for volunteer Mentors who have been victims of crime to tell the offenders (who have committed a similar offence) and other panel members about the impact of the crime on their lives and on the lives of their families, friends and community. Volunteer Mentors act as substitute or proxy victims to fulfil a partly-restorative process to encourage the development of the client’s empathy.

Volunteers do not have any role in facilitating mediations or conferences. Volunteers also support young people referred to the mentoring service, adopting a restorative practices framework. 

The restorative justice project officer works directly with all clients. 

Training of volunteers in restorative justice 

Volunteers who have been victims of crime in the past are offered the opportunity to complete 2-day Victim Impact Panel training. All volunteers in Le Chéile are offered the opportunity to complete 1-day IIRP Introduction to Restorative Practices training.  

In 2017, the following training took place:

  • 4 volunteers completed the Victim Impact Panel training (a bespoke training designed by Le Chéile which is validated by the IIRP)
  • 23 volunteers completed Mentoring Restoratively training (a bespoke training designed by Le Chéile which is validated by the IIRP)  
  • 17 volunteers completed Restorative Practices IIRP-accredited training.

Main source(s) of funding

Le Chéile Mentoring is funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service through the Probation Service, as part of Ireland’s European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes 2014-2020, which is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union. Limerick City and County Council co-fund the restorative justice project. 

Annual budget

€74,000 (restorative justice project 2019) 

Nature of funding

Annual

Organisational status

Le Chéile Restorative Justice Project operates within the Mid-West Region of Le Chéile Mentoring, which is a national organisation with Charity status. 

Target client group 

Young people aged 12-21 and, in certain circumstances, up to the age of 23 years who have offended and are subject to court-imposed Probation Orders. 

Nature of offences 

The crimes committed by the young people include, but are not limited to, public order, drug crime, car theft, burglary, arson, threatening and abusive behaviour, knife crime, drugs for sale and supply.

Source of cases

Probation Service and the Garda Síochána (Juvenile Liaison Office)

Geographic area of activity

Limerick, Clare and North Kerry

B.     Nature of RJ service

Model(s) of RJ services provided

  1. Victim Empathy Programme
  2. Reparation Programme
  3. Victim-Offender Mediation
  4. Victim Impact Panels
  5. RJ Conferences
  6. Training and events

Main process elements and short description of each model that the service provides 

Short description of each model

  1. The victim empathy programme entails one-to-one meetings with Le Chéile aimed at helping the young people to develop empathy and understand the impact of their actions and how they might put things right.
  2. The reparation programme allows the young person to repair the harm done to victims by doing work for the community. It can be an outcome of a restorative justice conference or a direct piece of work identified by the referral agent. The young person is assessed by Le Chéile and an appropriate intervention agreed with them and, if aged under 18, with parental consent. They are supported throughout the reparation by a volunteer or a staff member. Reparation programmes are facilitated by a number of host agents in Limerick City. The main aims are relationship building, reconciliation, and next steps to repair the harm. On completion of the intervention, Le Chéile makes a report to the referring agency. The average duration of interventions is 6 months. 
  3. The victim-offender mediation programme follows the standard model where the victim and offender, helped by a facilitator, communicate with one another and questions may be asked, information exchanged, and an agreement reached. In some cases, the victim and offender may not meet, but may communicate indirectly.
  4. Victim impact panels provide a forum for crime victims to tell the young offenders about the impact of the crime on their lives and on the lives of their families, friends and neighbours; meetings normally include the volunteer (the proxy victim), the young person, a parent/support person and a staff member facilitating.
  5. Restorative justice conferences are where victim and offender, and supporters, meet in a conference with a trained facilitator. Outcome agreements set out what the offender will do to address the harm done.
  6. Training is provided to staff and volunteers involved with the project. Training covers Victim Impact Panels (2 days) and Introduction to Restorative Justice (1 day). Training in restorative justice conference facilitation skills (3 days) is provided to professionals in the community, voluntary and statutory sectors. Restorative justice education awareness events are planned annually in line with International Restorative Justice Week. In 2019, these included a student council training workshop, screening of the RJ movie ‘The Meeting’, and ‘Coffee with a Cop’ events (in collaboration with Limerick Restorative Practices Project).

Number and nature of cases

RJ cases completed in 2019

Victim Empathy Programme 31
Victim Impact Panel 0
Restorative Conference 4
Victim Offender Mediation  5
Reparation Projects  3

Events/training provided in 2019

Event Number Participants
IIRP Restorative Practice training  3 28
RJ events  2 24 Young people, 30 Professionals

Overall, a total of 31 young people engaged in the restorative justice service in 2019, 31 in 2018 and 27 in 2017.

  • Number of cases referred: 31 cases referred and worked with by the RJ Project Officer in 2019
  • Number of cases completed: 29
  • Number of cases incomplete (with breakdown of reasons for incompletion): 2 cases 
  1. Lack of engagement from the young person 
  2. Due to parent not supportive of the programme
  • Number with victim participation – direct: 4 
  • Number with victim participation – indirect: 5
  • Number without victim participation: 22

Accredited restorative justice training was delivered to 28 participants in 2019, 22 in 2018 and 17 in 2017. This training equips volunteer mentors to draw on restorative skills during mentoring sessions to address any harm that a young person may have caused and to help them look at the consequences of their actions.  In 2020, 23 volunteer mentors in Limerick were trained in Q1. In light of COVID-19, the project has adapted to provide IIRP RP training online.

Community participation: Not readily available

Case profiles (2019)

Principal Offence  No.
Possession of weapon 8
Burglary/theft 16
Assault 8
Drug-related 2
Public order 6
Road traffic 6
Arson 1

Number of offenders: 31, some of whom had multiple offences

Offender age N
12-18 14
18-21 15
Over 21 2
Total 31

 

Gender  n
Male 24
Female 7
Total 31

Outcomes

Key findings from an independent evaluation of Le Chéile’s RJ project, carried out in 2015, included:

    • Young people: increased empathy towards victims and their families, improved family relationships, decreased substance abuse, increased pro-social per relationships, overall reduction in criminal behaviour.
    • Victims: Restorative justice process perceived as more inclusive, respectful and meaningful than traditional criminal justice approaches, decreased fear of crime an anxiety greater feeling of ‘closure’.
    • Parents: Greater understanding of child’s situation, improved parenting skills and approaches, decreased stress and anxiety, positive change in behaviour of child, reduced stress and conflict in the home.
    • Interagency work: improved ability for involved agencies to provide a range of restorative justice interventions, greater flexibility in how agencies work with young people, high satisfaction in restorative justice training provided to Victim Liaison Officers.
    • Social Return on Investment (SROI): Every €1 invested in the restorative justice project returned approximately €2.92 in social value, which increased to €3.50 when the project case load was increased by 20 percent. 

C.     Sources of further information 

Websites

Information Leaflets

Annual Reports and Strategies

Evaluations