A restorative circle is a respectful opportunity for people to talk through honestly an incident of harm. The circle creates an environment where everyone is equal and has the same opportunity as everyone else to speak and to be heard. It does this through the use of a talking piece. This is a significant object brought along by the facilitator (a trained restorative practitioner) which is passed clockwise to each person seated in the circle, and only the person holding the talking piece may speak. The circle focuses on what has happened, the consequences of that, and what needs to happen now. It can be used as a preventative measure in cases of anti-social behaviour, for example, or where there is harm within a community.
To prepare for the circle, we would hold preparatory meetings individually with all potential participants. This preparatory work would include:
What is a circle and how it works.
Ground rules and use of the talking piece.
How people think and feel about what happened and the questions we will ask in the circle.
Any concerns participants may have about taking part.
The incident of harm may require several circle sessions or just one, depending on the specific context and circumstances.