What does this project involve?
Remedi’s Restorative Mentoring (RM) intervention aims to reduce violent behaviours and crime amongst 10-17 year olds. Targeted at children who have previously displayed violent behaviour, all young people receive 12 weeks of mentoring from a trained Remedi mentor. Where it is deemed appropriate, children also receive restorative based family work, and a restorative justice (RJ) programme. In family work, mentors deliver flexible sessions to families, that range from 20 minutes to an hour, and focus on reducing familial conflicts and improving communication. The RJ programme arranges contact between the young person and the victim of the offence they committed. Contact may be a face-to-face meeting, or a letter, and young people are supported with at least four sessions of preparation with their mentor ahead of this contact.
Why did YEF fund this project?
Restorative justice is a process which supports the victim of a crime and the person responsible to communicate, repair harm, and find a positive way forward. It focuses on making the person responsible aware of the harm they caused and helps them to make reparations. As YEF’s Toolkit explains, it is associated with a moderate impact on reducing youth violence. However, we lack studies in an English and Welsh context. YEF also acknowledges the impact that mentoring may have on reducing violence; our toolkit explains that it is also associated with a moderate impact, yet it is similarly lacking in UK-based studies.
YEF, therefore, funded a pilot trial evaluation of Remedi’s RM intervention, which aims to combine both mentoring and restorative justice approaches. The evaluation aimed to test and refine the theory of change, understand how the intervention is experienced by young people, their families, victims and staff, establish a feasible way to measure the programme’s outcomes and identify a target population, and ascertain how successful recruitment and referral processes are.
To explore these questions, the evaluator used interviews and focus groups with stakeholders (including 9 young people and their families/carers, 12 staff and 3 referrers) and collected data on recruitment, retention and delivery from Remedi and police data regarding contact with young people. They also surveyed children with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Self-Reported Delinquency Scale (SRDS).
The pilot was a two-armed, individually randomised controlled trial (RCT), that recruited 119 young people. Remedi RM was provided to 58 children in the intervention group, while 61 children in the control group received an alternative intervention, Restorative Choices (RC) training. RC is a short mentoring scheme, consisting of four one-to-one sessions, each lasting one to two hours. RC is focused on improving empathy and the understanding of consequences. In this pilot, it was delivered by the same mentors who delivered Remedi RM.
Ethnicity data was only provided for around half of the 119 children involved in the study. Amongst this group, 8% identified as Asian or Asian British, 7% as Black or Black British, 5% as Mixed Ethnicity, 2% as other, and 78% as White.
The evaluation ran from January 2022 to March 2023.
|Remedi’s RM is a well-defined intervention, and the mentoring component was delivered with fidelity in this pilot trial. Young people in the intervention group who started the programme worked with Remedi mentors on co-agreed action plans and received an average of 11.6 contacts over 12 weeks. The RJ and restorative-based family support were less utilised than anticipated.
|Remedi failed to reach the recruitment target set at the outset of the project, recruiting 119 out of a target of 348 (34%). This was largely due to a slow start to recruitment, in part due to some boroughs being more reluctant to participate in an RCT. Recruitment did improve as the project progressed, and the evaluator is confident there are enough eligible young people to participate in a larger trial.
|Outcomes were feasible to collect. Seventy-four per cent of young people in the study provided SDQ and SRDS data, and Remedi mentors provided effective support to young people to complete these surveys. Matching of police administrative data also proved feasible.
|Stakeholders, including young people, families/carers and referrers, valued the relationship that mentors established with young people. In interviews, these groups praised the mentors’ accepting style coupled with their abilities to challenge thinking and behaviours.
|The evaluator judges that a larger efficacy trial is feasible and suggests a sample size of 502 children and young people where the number of participants is selected based on evaluations of similar interventions and is such that the trial has sufficient statistical power to detect small or moderate improvements in the RM intervention compared to the RC intervention.
What will YEF do next?
YEF have proceeded with funding a larger efficacy trial, which commenced in Spring 2023.