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Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice x Year 2021 x
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Performing restorative justice: facilitator experience of delivery of the Sycamore Tree Programme in a forensic mental health unit

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 3 2021
Keywords restorative justice, sycamore tree programme, ethnography, forensic mental health, self-presentation
Authors Joel Harvey and Gerard Drennan
AbstractAuthor's information

    Restorative justice has increasingly been used across the criminal justice system. However, there is limited evidence of its use with service users within forensic mental health settings. This study conducted a focused ethnography in a medium secure unit in the UK to explore the implementation of the Sycamore Tree Programme, a specific restorative justice programme that the Prison Fellowship (PF) facilitates in prisons. This article examines the experience of PF volunteers and National Health Service (NHS) staff who came together to run the programme with the first cohort of eight service users (‘learners’). Focus groups were carried out before and after training with eight facilitators, and six interviews with facilitators were completed after the programme ended. Furthermore, detailed observations were carried over the six-week programme. It was found that the encounter was highly experiential for staff and that the group process generated significant emotion for both the learners and facilitators. A pre-requisite for containing the group’s and the facilitators’ emotions was staff taking a relational and collaborative approach to their work. The findings of this study are discussed within the theoretical framework of ‘the presentation of self in everyday life’ (Goffman, 1959), looking through the lens of the performative self in social relations.


Joel Harvey
Joel Harvey is Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the Department of Law and Criminology, Royal Holloway University of London, UK and Registered Clinical and Forensic Psychologist.

Gerard Drennan
Gerard Drennan is Lead Psychologist – Forensic and Offender Health Pathway, South London, UK and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Contact author: joel.harvey@rhul.ac.uk
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