Aster Group is first organisation outside of the UK criminal justice system to receive Registered Restorative Organisation status

Local housing association, Aster Group has become the first organisation in the UK outside of the criminal justice system to receive Registered Restorative Organisation (RRO) status from the Restorative Justice Council (RJC).

Approximately 300 leaders within the business completed a three-day programme learning the principles of restorative practice. The principles aim to empower individuals and teams to address conflict or misunderstandings by enabling them to use their own voice to come up with solutions to work better together. It can be used successfully to reduce the need for management intervention, and where appropriate, as an alternative to a more formal process in order to achieve the best outcome for all.

Julie Potts, head of employee relations at Aster and her team, worked with restorative trainer and director of the Restorative Engagement Forum, Charlotte Calkin to deliver the programme to Asters leaders over the past two years.

Charlotte said: “Restorative practice isn’t just about when conflict happens, it’s about preventing it from happening in the first place, creating workplaces where people are engaged and part of the organisation’s journey. It gives people a sense of accountability and a real sense of belonging and is a practical tool kit of resources to navigate through working life. It’s a way of working to help people communicate more effectively.”

While formal accreditation has been limited to the criminal justice system up until now, restorative practice is starting to be used more widely by schools and business. It encourages a number of key skills including listening, taking responsibility, building trust and embodying respect - and helps businesses resolve issues and conflict without the need to blame and shame.

Jim Simon, chief executive of the Restorative Justice Council said: “Aster Group has embedded a strong restorative culture across its organisation. Senior leaders have embraced this culture and reflected their commitment within the organisation’s strategic planning, policies and procedures. Leaders highlighted to us that ‘there is an appetite across the organisation to embed a restorative culture which underpins all our people interactions’; and they have demonstrated by achieving Registered Restorative Organisation status that they are committed to delivering high quality restorative practice to nationally agreed standards.”

Aster is now embedding restorative practice principles throughout the business. Rachel Credidio, group people and transformation director, said: “Restorative Practice is a resolution focused programme and aligns very well with our own internal values and culture. It gives everyone a voice and importantly, it is solution focussed. It can be successfully used in all employee relations situations (and in personal life), and our people procedures are being updated to reflect this approach.”

Julie added: “We’re delighted to be the first organisation outside of the criminal justice system to be registered with the Restorative Justice Council. We are a forward-thinking business and always looking at ways to improve our offer to our colleagues as this will, in turn, have a positive impact on our customers.”

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