The organisers of a project which aims to reconcile offenders with their victims through restorative justice and art are celebrating after winning a national award last night.
Space2face won the criminal justice category at the Restorative Practice Awards UK (RPUK), which were held in London.
The Shetland scheme, co-founded by Alyson Halcrow and Clair Aldington eight years ago, provides offenders with a constructive way to confront the effects of their actions and also to make amends with their victims.
Run as a partnership between Shetland Arts and the Community Meditation Team, it came about because both founders had experience working in restorative justice.
The artistic aspect was a result of Ms Aldington’s work as they felt that creativity could be an effective way for perpetrators to channel their thoughts and feelings.
Ms Aldington said they were absolutely delighted and very excited to win the award.
She said: “Even to have been shortlisted was great but to win is overwhelming. We want to thank everyone who has worked with the project, particularly Shetland Arts which helped from the beginining.
“We are very grateful to the external funders as well. A big thanks to everyone.”
Mrs Halcrow had said earlier she did not think there were any other projects like space2face in the UK.
She said: “When we’re working with people we try to see if they have any creative interests. Many people don’t find it easy to communicate in person, but then some people we work with prefer to communicate.
“We have people who have been responsible for causing harm and they have found creating a gift for their victims to be helpful in confronting what happened and apologising for their actions.”
It is not just the perpetrator who benefits from the space2face project. Victims can also benefit from the opportunity to confront and analyse.
Although challenging, Mrs Halcrow said the process was potentially rewarding for both parties.
“By participating in restorative justice victims gain a voice. They can channel their anger in a constructive way. By receiving a gift they can also begin to forgive.”