Child Friendly Leeds

One minute guide: Restorative conference

What is a Restorative Conference

A restorative conference is a meeting, or a series of meetings, with the aim of exploring feelings and solving difficulties between two or more people to address perceived harm caused as a result of a dispute or wrong doing. A restorative conference is a tool used as part of our restorative approach. It can be used when conflict arises in the workplace, when people experience behaviour they find inappropriate and when relationships break down and individuals or teams are affected. It uses an informal approach similar to mediation. It is not an alternative to addressing underperformance; if required, this should take place prior to a referral for a restorative conference.

Restorative conferences are led by facilitators who have been trained. Facilitators will not take on sensitive and complex cases unless they have the skills, experience and knowledge required; they must also not act on any case with a conflict of interest. Facilitators follow the local safeguarding policy and procedures.

What is available in Leeds

Restorative Conferences may be available within Leeds City Council depending on availability of facilitators and can be requested by a front line staff member or their manager. Practitioners in other agencies should check within their own organisations to see if this is something that is available to them.

In addition, partner organisations can request support through a Restorative Conference on a traded basis from the Workforce Development Team.

It can take a number of weeks to complete the restorative conference process to give the participants time to understand the process, agree to participate, share their experience with the facilitator, bring the parties together and agree a way forward for all parties.

What principles inform this work

There are six principles that facilitators adhere to in the course of their work:

  • Restoration – the primary aim is to repair relationships
  • Voluntary participation – participation in a restorative conference is voluntary and based on informed choice; if the facilitator or their supervisor feels this is missing they will not accept the referral
  • Neutrality – restorative conferences are fair and unbiased towards participants. Facilitators are drawn from across the organisation and at all levels
  • Safety – processes and practice aim to ensure the safety of all participants and create a safe space for the expression of feelings and views about any harm that has been caused
  • Accessibility – restorative conferences are non-discriminatory and available to all those affected by conflict or harm
  • Respect – restorative conferences are respectful to the dignity of all participants and those affected by harm

What stages are involved in a restorative conference

The following stages involved in Leeds City Council’s restorative conferences:

  • Referral—a referral is made to the Workforce Development Team who will request the completion of a referral form and allocate a facilitator. The facilitator will contact the referrer to initiate the process within five working days of allocation
  • Face to face meetings—the facilitator will meet the parties involved separately and face to face to explain the process and prepare those involved to come together and participate in the conference. This involves establishing how the process works, and clarifying expectations for the meeting and agreement of conduct
  • Preparation for conference—the facilitator will arrange the venue, prepare notes and paperwork for conference write up, seek support from an accredited peer and ensure risk and safety has been determined for a suitable approach
  • Facilitate conference—all parties come together for a face to face meeting where the participants will be encouraged to actively participate, communicate respectfully with each other and identify their own solutions to the problems

The facilitator will guide the participants through the process, ensuring that the dialogue is focused and with everyone being given the opportunity to actively participate. In addition they ensure:

  • that emotional and physical needs are catered for
  • that participants have the time and space to reach agreements and that the conference is recorded
  • the conference is written up and agreed actions are shared by the facilitator, who checks that the participants have the capacity and ability to carry them out

Key contacts and more information

Staff within Leeds City Council can request a restorative conference by contacting the Restorative Practice lead at

Requests for conferences are often received from Human Resources or Trade Union representatives, however managers or staff members are also encouraged to make contact with the Restorative Practice lead to encourage early resolution in the life of the problem.

Partner organisations can request support through a Restorative Conference on a traded basis by contacting the Workforce Development Team at

You can find more information on the Restorative Practice in the Workplace page external linkon the Restorative Justice Council website.

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