A. Service overview and contact details
Focus of restorative justice (RJ) /restorative practice (RP) activities
Slaney Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) is one of over 100 community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives that support the Garda Youth Diversion Programme. The projects offer a wide variety of activities such as education, training, sports, art, music, group or other activities aimed at helping young people stay out of trouble. Slaney GYDP is part of Ferns Diocesan Youth Service, which has committed itself to embedding restorative practices in the way staff work with each other, with young people, with families and with the community. The Slaney Project uses restorative practices such as circles and restorative conversations in all aspects of its work.
Year of commencement (RJ/RP elements)
Slaney Garda Youth Diversion Project
Ferns Diocesan Youth Service (FDYS) Ltd
Tel: 053 923 4574
Head of service
Kieran Donohoe (CEO, FDYS)
Tel: 053 91 23262
Terry O’Neill, Project Co-ordinator
Mob: 087 935 1764
Slaney Project has two full-time youth justice workers. It works in a collaborative, wrap-around way with a host of other FDYS projects based in Enniscorthy.
Staff training in RJ/RP
Eighty percent of staff based in Enniscorthy are RP trained or have been introduced to RP through one-day training events. FDYS is currently implementing an RP approach throughout the organisation. To date:
- 30 approx. members of staff have received one-day Introduction to RP Training (IIRP);
- seven members of staff have been fully trained as Restorative Practitioners (IIRP);
- seven members of staff have trained as RP circle keepers;
- three members of staff have obtained a Level 8 qualification in Restorative Practices (Carlow IT); and,
- one member of staff is a qualified Restorative Practices trainer (IIRP) and Youth Justice RP trainer (University of Ulster).
Use of volunteers
Volunteer training in RJ/RP
Main source(s) of funding
Co-funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) and the European Social Fund.
Nature of funding
Slaney Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) is a service operated by Ferns Diocesan Youth Service (FDYS), which is a non-governmental body and registered charity.
Target client group
Young people aged 12-18 years who have engaged in offending behaviour and are at risk of reoffending or who are at risk of first time offending. Participation in the service is voluntary.
Nature of offences
The spectrum of offences includes: public order, criminal damage, theft from shop, burglary, road traffic offences, possession of drugs for own use, possession of drugs for sale and supply, minor assault and assault causing harm.
Source of referrals
Referrals into the project are from JLOs and other Gardaí, schools, youth groups, parents, peers and self-referrals. The majority of project participants are young people who have entered the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and/or are considered at risk of remaining within the justice system. A second group comprises young people who, although they have not been cautioned or referred directly by the JLO, have come to the attention of the Gardaí, the community or local agencies as a result of their behaviour and are at risk of being involved in offending.
Geographic area of activity
FDYS operate services across County Wexford. Slaney GYDP serves the towns of Enniscorthy and Gorey and surrounding areas.
B. Nature of RJ/RP service
RJ/RP services provided
- RP approach to working, Restorative conversations
FDYS has committed to embedding restorative practices in the way staff work with each other, with young people, with families and with the community. Slaney GYDP has been applying a restorative practices approach since 2010 with young people and parents, with restorative conversations and circles having become particularly important in helping to guide the relationship between the project and young people. Seven members of the Slaney GYDP are fully trained Restorative Practitioners and Circle Keepers.
RP training, learning and development opportunities for FDYS in 2018-2020 included:
- Roll out of RP training
- Restorative Practices Handbook developed by Mailyn Venn (Slaney GYDP Youth Justice Worker) – A handy go-to guide of restorative references available to all staff, volunteers, management and Board of Management, young people and parents
- Workshops on RP-specific topics, e.g. Fair Process, Social Discipline Window, Restorative Language
- Support Circles, Individual support and a Community of Practice
- Informing staff of RP research and reading material
The Slaney Project works in a continuous and sustained restorative practices way with young people (20-25 approx. annually), parents and fellow professionals. Using restorative language, circles and meetings has helped to improve the quality of our encounters with young people, which in turn has helped to create better, more valued relationships. Staff are currently adapting to digital delivery of services through use of restorative Zoom circles and virtual interaction with young people.
The Slaney Project Co-ordinator has delivered RP training and bespoke workshops in the community to fellow youth justice workers, youth workers, childcare professionals, teachers, school completion officers, drugs workers and youth and community managers. The Slaney Project collaborates with frontline workers in the FDYS Roma Project and Traveller Inclusion Project to work in a restorative way with young people from the Roma and Travelling communities to help promote pro-social values, diversity and equality. It engages in outreach and detached work with harder-to-reach young people in the community and also works with young people in residential care to help build and shape better relationships as part of their support system.
Young people can be participants in the Garda Youth Diversion Programme as a result of offending or can be at risk of offending. See ‘nature of offences’ above for typical offences.
Offender age and gender breakdown
The age range of young people in the project is 12-18 years. Referrals are mostly in the 15-17 year old bracket. The ratio of males to females referred has stayed consistent over the years at 3:1.
Potential outcomes include improved relationships between young people and parents, reduced risk of reoffending, and a stronger support system for young people and parents. The project’s experience is that they are partly or fully achieved with a high percentage of referrals but measured outcomes are not readily available.
C. Sources of further information
Wexford Children & Young People’s Services Committee