Restorative Practice

Belvedere Youth Club originated when Belvedere Social Services assumed responsibility for two existing inner city youth clubs in 1918. Two of its founding members were Victor Plunkett and Dr William Lombard Murphy.

BYC was known as the Belvedere Newsboys’ Club until 1969, running a variety of educational and recreational programmes, including sports, summer camps, literacy and remedial education from a number of locations in the inner city. In 1972, the club engaged its first full-time director and admitted female members, changing its name to Belvedere Youth Club. In the 1980s, we hired our first employee and took the first step form being a volunteer-based organisation to a professional youth service.

Throughout the club’s history, ex-pupils of Belvedere College (Great Denmark Street) have supported and developed the club through the Belvedere College Union. For many decades, the club operate from various rented premises around the area. In the 1990s, concerted fundraising initiatives enabled us to raise the €650,000 necessary to move to a permanent, custom-built location in Buckingham Street. Owning our own premises has allowed us to plan for the future in a much more concrete way.

One of the wonderful things about BYC is how generations from the same family will walk through our doors as youngsters. The club is one of the most popular community projects in the inner city. This long tradition and history make BYC special and, to this day, past members will regularly return to the club – as visitors or to get more involved in our work.

What is Restorative Practice?

RP is a relationship-based, rather than behavioural-based, personal development structure. The goal is to stop harm taking place, take the person to a safe place, then guide them to reflect on and explain what happened and understand what they were feeling. The final step is to help them think about the other person involved in the situation and explore the different ways they could have acted in the circumstances.

The unique feature of RP is that you create advantage from where you are – in other words, there is no “starting point” with RP, it can be used at any stage of a situation. Restorative practice is a strategy that seeks to repair relationships that have been damaged and prevent conflict, dealing with discord in a healthy manner when it occurs. RP is pro-active, using a restorative ethos and consistent use of relationship-based resolution.It’s all about how to be social and how to interact in positive ways with each other.

Far from being a ‘soft option’, this restorative approach is predicated on an expectation that when people get things wrong they must put them right. This requires a level of personal responsibility that is profoundly character-building. The way situations are resolved is agreed by everyone involved, rather than solutions or amends being imposed by others. It is not an easy option for those taking part, as it requires an honest look at the context in which things have gone wrong, and a willingness to consider everything that may have contributed.

At BYC, we have chosen RP as an evidence-based set of skills that helps to nurture and sustain strong and happy organisations and communities by actively developing good relationships, preventing the escalation of conflict or handling wrongdoing in a creative and healthy manner. We use it to bring communities together to tackle a broad range of topics, giving people a voice to address problems.

Funding for Restorative Practice

Our corporate funding from SMBC Aviation Capital was officially announced by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, TD, at a BYC event in 2019. Funding is managed by The Community Foundation for Ireland and will facilitate refurbishment works and the creation of a hub for restorative practice in Ireland.