Birmingham Youth Offending Service RoadPeace Intervention
About two years ago, the RoadPeace Support Services Manager, Belina Rauli, contacted me in my role as West Midlands Group Coordinator; the Birmingham Youth Offending Service had been in touch, keen to know if there was a way we could collaborate. The service were working with young people, in trouble for driving-related crimes, and were concerned they were not understanding the potential impact of their actions as well as they could.
My immediate reaction was one of mixed emotions – I was unsure what could be developed, how the West Midlands group would feel about this, and worried about the potential for re-traumatisation; on the other hand, I knew the West Midlands group were determined to do all possible to reduce road danger. Over the following months, Belina, the group members, and I, met with the service on multiple occasions – trying to figure out how we could work together in an impactful, but sensitive way.
We started with the RoadPeace West Midlands anthology (a collection of accounts from those impacted by road traffic collisions). We launched the anthology in September 2021, with a service at St. Martin in the Bull Ring. We invited some of the restorative practice workers from the youth offending team to attend. At the end of the service, it was clear the restorative practice workers had been deeply moved. For our group, it was obvious that this was a genuine opportunity to work with a team who were whole-heartedly committed to getting young people to better understand the horror and devastation of road death and injury. The team weren’t there at a token level, they were there because they fully supported the cause of RoadPeace. A strong friendship developed between the youth offending team and our group. The restorative practice workers utilised the anthology in having conversations with the young people, asked for poster versions of some of the submissions in the anthology, and joined our group on a ‘walk and talk’ along the canal from Kings Norton to Birmingham City Centre.
This year, we reached a point where we were ready to pilot a scheme whereby a young person could meet with a RoadPeace West Midlands group member, following a restorative justice format. I took part in the first meeting. The support and care from the youth offending team was excellent, they spent time preparing me, and talking to me about the young person, they constantly re-iterated that I could back out at any point, and they gave me an opportunity to set boundaries in terms of what I was and was not willing to discuss. I would be lying if I didn’t say taking part in this meeting was extremely emotional. My brother was killed by a speeding, hit-and-run driver, in 2014. I love to talk about him – about who he was, what he did, what he meant to me. However, talking about the impact of his loss is tough – this is a pain and hurt that like all RoadPeace members, I have had to adapt to living with. The pain hasn’t lessened, but my resilience to cope with it has strengthened. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the experience was overwhelmingly positive. I was faced with a young person who was ready to hear my story, and admit to his own actions. I found myself struck by the courage this young person was showing in sitting down with me. I felt hope.
In November, as a part of Restorative Justice Week, the Restorative Practice Team at Birmingham Youth Offending Service provided RoadPeace staff and volunteers with a training session on the work they do. They also formally launched the ‘RoadPeace Intervention’ city-wide and invited me to attend, on behalf of the group. The aims of this intervention are as follows:
- To support children and young people to understand the impacts of motor vehicle crime
- To support children and young people to understand the wrong choice or decision can have devastating impacts to others and themselves
- To give children and young people the opportunity to engage in an intervention that is beneficial to them, to the RoadPeace charity, and its members
The team presented me with a mosaic dove made by young people under the supervision of their reparation coordinator, Roger Nelson. It is a beautiful piece of artwork, that has been created with care and attention – but most importantly, as a part of vital conversations about the risks of road crime. Again, there was that feeling of hope. I’m so pleased that this art will be going to St. Martin in the Bull Ring, the adopted home of RoadPeace West Midlands, and a place where our group members feel comfort. The young people are now also working on a piece of art for the RoadPeace office.
Artwork created by young people working with the Birmingham Youth Offending Service
Going forward, further meetings will take place, but only when careful assessment has been made to ensure both the young person and West Midlands group member are in a place where such meetings will be constructive. We have also started conversations about a collaboration on a potential Garden of Remembrance in the city of Birmingham. Sandra Coyne, from the Birmingham Youth Offending Team said, “We are proud to be working in partnership with RoadPeace and are looking forward to continuing working alongside the charity.”
I never envisaged the West Midlands group doing something like this, and fully understand speaking to those in trouble for driving crimes would not be the right thing for everyone – but for our group, I am so glad we have undertaken this. Having a loved one killed in a road traffic collision is the most horrific experience most people will ever have. Through this project, there is some hope that maybe, just maybe, we can help prevent someone else experiencing what we have.
If you are interested in watching the recording of the training session provided by the Youth Offending Service, or would like to explore the possibility of a similar scheme in your region, please contact me for further information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Updated on: 16 December 2022