It was an ordinary day for Alison when she answered a knock on the door. A young man, Simon, was on the doorstep and asked her for a glass of water and if he could use her toilet. Knowing Simon as a young man from the neighbourhood, Alison let him inside. After gaining access to her home, Simon sexually assaulted Alison.
Whilst in custody, Simon heard about the restorative justice programme and asked to be part of it to apologise to Alison. ERMS went to meet him.
“We met him in prison, and talked about the process and why he might want to take part”, said facilitator, Stephen. “He explained about his childhood, that he had issues with drug use and that he wanted to meet Alison. He and his family had known her for a long time, and he felt he owed her an explanation and apology”.
Working alongside Alison’s Victim Liaison Officer (VLO), Stephen and his co-facilitator, Sue, made contact with Alison to see if RJ was something she would find beneficial to explore. Alison talked about how there was 2 sides to Simon, one being the nice, helpful young man who would help her with jobs around the house and the other was fuelled by drugs and alcohol and was frightening. Alison was frightened of Simon being released from prison and how the whole incident had affected her, in particular that her 10 year old grandson had been in the house and heard it all. Despite all that had happened, Alison was keen to see Simon address his issues with drugs and alcohol and become a better person. Options for the next steps were discussed, and Alison requested that Simon write a letter to her.
Simon was happy to agree to this, and asked that he complete the letter after his release. Facilitators ensured that Alison was comfortable with this, and worked with her VLO who ensured that she was aware of any restrictions put on Simon regarding visiting the area where she lived.
Sue and Stephen, continuing to work alongside the professionals supporting both Alison and Simon, facilitated the exchange of the letter.
Simon answered the questions put to him by Alison, via the facilitators, in a letter which Sue described as “detailed, genuine and well thought-out”. The letter talked about how he had addressed his drug use and had been substance free for more than 2 years. He thanked Alison for the opportunity to write to her and explained his plans for the future.
Simon’s Probation Officer reported that being part of the meeting in which Simon talked about writing the letter ‘made her day’ and was emotional and productive.
After hearing the content of the letter, Alison expressed real pleasure in the positive steps Simon had been making, and even suggested she help out in his recovery where possible. Alison took the opportunity to reply to Simon’s letter, which he reported made him feel “a whole lot better”.
*names have been changed