Written by: Sarah Nantongo

In the realm of youth justice, there exists a pivotal debate persists between two fundamental approaches: rehabilitation and retribution. While retribution emphasizes punishment as a means of addressing wrongdoing, rehabilitation aims to address the root causes of juvenile delinquency and help young offenders to reintegrate them positively into society. This essay advocates for the prioritization of rehabilitation over retribution in youth justice systems, citing its effectiveness in fostering long-term societal benefits and nurturing the potential for positive change among young individuals. 

Rehabilitation has a high potential of reducing recidivism rates.This is because it addresses the root cause of criminal behavior and offers offenders an opportunity to grow, reform and become better people in society by providing them with necessary support (Bandyopadhyay, 2020) and treatment through therapy and education. For example, there was a reduction in reoffending rates in Norway after they moved their focus from punishment to rehabilitation (Bandyopadhyay, 2020). Baraza (2020) argues that rehabilitation allows the criminal justice system to identify factors that could have encouraged these criminals to undertake their deviant ways thus doing more than putting criminals away. According to Weatherburn (1982), severe harsh sentences have not shown their effectiveness in reducing recidivism and that the prevention of further criminal behavior which rehabilitation achieves should be given more priority. Similarly, statistics from the department of justice showed that 67.5% of former prisoners that had not been submitted to rehabilitation programs would be arrested again as compared to retribution (Bernard et al, 2017). In the same vein, Bandyopadhyay (2020) notes that harsh punishments are not very effective in achieving recidivism. Thus rehabilitation is more important than retribution as it reduces the chances of criminals reoffending and addresses the root cause of crimes. 

Furthermore rehabilitation is economically cheaper as compared to retribution. Rehabilitation is an economically cost effective method of reducing crime as compared to the idea of retribution (Bandyopadhyay,2020). Bernard et al (2017) notes that rehabilitation is more economically beneficial and effective than incarceration. Lengthy prison sentences can be financially burdensome due to the high costs associated with it such as maintenance of a large number of inmates. For example , Morsch, 2019 argues that a lot of money is spent in the United states by the criminal justice system on prisons which are not effectively making society or individuals lives better. In the same vein, retribution has social costs as offenders often struggle to reintegrate in society (Sasha Abramsky, 2013) and may face issues such as unemployment which increases demands on social services and healthcare. Rehabilitation programs furthermore help criminals reform and acquire new skills which may aid them in finding employment and reduce the burden on the state and society by decreasing the likelihood of them resorting to illegal activities to sustain themselves and contributing to the economy through tax payment. This suggests that retribution of criminals is economically expensive and ineffective thus making rehabilitation more important than it.

Though, some have argued that retribution satisfies the victims desire for justice by providing a just punishment to the criminals and holding them accountable for their actions. .Retribution satisfies the current desire of anger and returning crime with punishment (Rubin, 2003). According to Bernard et al (2017), the majority of people advocate for retribution as they believe it gives the offender what they deserve. It seeks to impose hardship on the criminal as a just response to crime (Bandyopadhyay, 2020) and fulfills the desire of inflicting corresponding amounts of suffering upon the criminal (David and Choi, 2009).This suggests that retribution achieves justice, closure for victims and public support since it serves punishment to criminals by holding them accountable for their wrong doing. 

However, retribution justice often leads to a society filled with vengeance, violence and ignores the underlying causes of crime. Morsch (2019) notes that retribution is about making the offender know how it feels like to be mistreated and paying back the harm. This may lead to an inhumane society and does not allow the victim to heal from the crime. On the other hand, rehabilitation offers restorative justice which is a better alternative to punishment. Restorative justice allows the victims to heal from the offense committed to them and not be slaves to it by harboring lasting anger and hatred.Galaway and Hudson (1996) suggest that creating peace in communities by reconciling and repairing the injuries between the victim and the offender should be the aim of the criminal justice process. In the same vein, Morsch (2019) argues that restorative justice has many benefits as it allows the victims to heal from the crime and solves the conflict between them. This in turn may lead to social harmony in society, allows the victim to heal and recognises that a criminal can reform and accord them with dignity thus making rehabilitation more important. 

It can be argued that retribution serves as a deterrent for potential crimes. This implies that retribution sends a clear message that crime will be met with severe punishment thus discouraging people from doing it. Crime will be deterred by harsh prison sentences since no one would want to spend that much time in prison and an example of this is Rockefeller Drug laws in New York which consist of severe sentences as a means to deter people from violating drugs and committing crimes related to it (Bernard et al , 2017). Imai and Krishna (2004) argue that policies like rehabilitation that are not powerful in deterrence are weak and less effective as criminals have no fear to stay away from disobeying the established mode of conduct. This suggests that retribution of criminals is more important than rehabilitation since it ensures that people stay away from committing crimes due to the fear of punishment. 

In contrast, research suggests that the threat of punishment alone does not effectively deter individuals from committing crimes. Weatherburn (1982) notes that harsh sentences have not shown their effectiveness in prevention of further criminal behavior. In the same vein, Bernard et al (2017) notes that rehabilitation is more effective in reducing further crime rates than severe prison sentences and that people are less likely to commit crimes if the underlying causes of why crimes were committed have been addressed rather than because of the sentence they might receive. This suggests that by focusing on rehabilitation, the criminal justice system is more likely to create safer communities with reduced criminal rates since rehabilitation will address the underlying issues of why crimes are caused and have a long impact in the deterrence of crimes in society. 

In conclusion, the adoption of rehabilitation over retribution in the juvenile justice system is compelling because by prioritizing the holistic well-being and long-term prospects of youth offenders, rehabilitation not only reduces recidivism but also cultivates a society that values empathy, second chances, and the potential for positive transformation. Evidence supports its efficacy in reducing recidivism rates and promoting public safety, while also respecting the inherent dignity and potential for growth in every individual. As society strives to build a more just and equitable future, embracing rehabilitation as a cornerstone of youth justice is not only pragmatic but essential for fostering positive societal change. 

REFERENCE LIST

Bernard, J. et al. (2017) ‘Perceptions of Rehabilitation and Retribution in the Criminal Justice System: A Comparison of Public Opinion and Previous Literature’, Journal of Forensic Sciences & Criminal Investigation, 5(3), 555669. Perceptions of Rehabilitation and Retribution in the Criminal Justice System: A Comparison of Public Opinion and Previous Literature (juniperpublishers.com) 

Baraza, S. (2020) ‘Criminal Justice Should Focus More on Rehabilitation than Punishment. Social Science Research Network’, SSRN. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3727711 

Abramsky, S. (2013) ‘Second Chance: Charting a New Course for Re-Entry and Criminal Justice Reform’, NCJRS. Available at: Second Chance: Charting a New Course for Re-Entry and Criminal Justice Reform | Office of Justice Programs (ojp.gov) 

Galaway, B. and Hudson, J. (1996) ‘Restorative Justice: International Perspectives’, NCJRS. Available at: Restorative Justice: International Perspectives | Office of Justice Programs (ojp.gov) 

Weatherburn, D. (1982) ‘Seven Arguments Against Rehabilitation – An Assessment of Their Validity’, NCJRS. Available at: Seven Arguments Against Rehabilitation – An Assessment of Their Validity | Office of Justice Programs (ojp.gov) 

Bandyopadhyay, S. (2020) ‘ Why rehabilitation – not harsher prison sentences – makes economic sense’, The Conversation, 24(May). Available at: https://theconversation.com/why-rehabilitation-not-harsher-prison-sentences-makes-economic-s ense-132213. Accessed: 11 June 2023).

Brenda de Oliveira Morsch, B.d.(2019). ‘Retribution vs. Restoration: Tendencies of the Criminal Justice System’, Dominican Scholar. Available at: Retribution vs. Restoration: Tendencies of the Criminal Justice System (dominican.edu) 

Imai, S. and Krishna, K. (2004) ‘Employment, Deterrence, and Crime in a dynamic model’, International Economic Review, 45(3), 845-872. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0020-6598.2004.00289.x 

Rubin, E. (2003). ‘Just Say No to Retribution’, Buffalo Criminal Law Review, 7(1), 17–83. https://doi.org/10.1525/nclr.2003.7.1.17 

David, R., and Choi, S. Y. P. (2009).’ Getting Even or Getting Equal? Retributive Desires and Transitional Justice’. Political Psychology, 30(2), 161–192. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25655385

Young Social Entrepreneurs Competition

Sponsored by Restorative Justice for All

Do you have a big idea?

RJ4All is celebrating its 10th Anniversary by kicking off the Young Social Entrepreneurs competition! RJ4All is investing in young entrepreneurs in London who are keen to make a positive change through an innovative idea, initiative, or project.

Submit your proposal for your own “RJ4All” project, and you could win the start-up prize.

Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) was founded 10 years ago in Theo’s kitchen. His dream was to establish the first Restorative Justice postcode where power is shared and power abuse is rooted out through the power of dialogue, education, sports and art, as well as the practices of restorative justice.

RJ4All is now recognised as the world’s leading, international restorative justice network with members from over 150 countries. We work in partnership with decision makers, making evidence-based arguments to achieve long-term change. RJ4All is on a mission to build the world’s first restorative justice post-code using its Community Centre in South East London as an international, evidence-based case-study.

Would you start your community garden and plant food for the community?

Would you develop a video game that celebrates your neighbourhood and culture?

Would you get a community pet?

Would you buy recording equipment and release your first album celebrating your heritage?

Think BIG, Think OUT OF THE BOX, Think like a RJ4All Social Entrepreneur!

The winners of the Restorative Justice Entrepreneurship Competition will win:

Cash prize to invest in your great idea

One-to-One professional coaching to develop and realise your idea

Invitation to come to the House of Parliament and have your idea showcased at the 10th Anniversary Celebration

PR and promotion of ideas and journey

The opportunity to present your big idea at the 10th Anniversary Celebration where it will be celebrated, publicised, and eligible for support!

To apply, please review the “how to apply” document to submit your proposal for consideration. Candidates will be shortlisted and contacted for an interview. The deadline is the 6th of December 2023.

The Frightening Statistics

For the academic year 2020/2021, the UK government website has reported 352,454 cases of suspensions and 3,928 permanent exclusions in England. The most frequent cause of exclusion reported is continual disruptive behaviour, accounting for 42% of suspensions and 39% of permanent exclusions. [1] The Challenging School Exclusions report by JUSTICE (2019) highlights that since 2012 the number of permanent and fixed school exclusions in England has increased year on year. These statistics far outpace those in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and significantly affect students from ethnic minority backgrounds and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). [2] For example, research involving the University of York indicates that there were 7,900 permanent exclusions in England compared with only 3 cases in Scotland between 2017/2018. On an international level, we fared even worse as a country with the school exclusion rate in the UK being 10 times higher than any other European country. [3]

These alarming statistics do not end here. An article by The Guardian refers to the data as only “the tip of the iceberg”, with research suggesting that 5 times more young children are being schooled in alternative provisions for excluded students than the actual statistics dare to admit. [4]

The Timpson Review of School Exclusion in 2019, commissioned by the government, has acknowledged and established that not all school exclusions may have been legal, justified and completely rational. [5] In addition, the aforementioned JUSTICE report has raised some critical concerns in regard to school leaders’ poor decision-making, their inconsistent understanding of legal duties, high occurrence of informal exclusions and potentially unlawful “off-rolling”, and calls for a systematic reform for school exclusions that demands an approach that is robust, consistent, fair and also considerate to a child’s individual needs. [2]

What is “Off-rolling”?

“Off-rolling” is described by Ofsted as “the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the best interests of the school, rather than in the best interests of the pupil. This includes pressuring a parent to remove their child from the school roll”. [6] “Off-rolling” has also often been perceived as a tactical move by school leaders to remove poor-performing pupils that are likely to lower the school’s national test performances (such as GCSEs) to manipulate their academic standing, or the so-called “gaming” the league tables. [7] SEND and disadvantaged students are strikingly the most affected. [8] In a 2017 briefing to MPs, the Children’s Commissioner claimed that 89% of mainstream schools in England would have lower GCSE pass rates if the results of those students who had been off-rolled or moved to alternative provisions between Year 7-11 were included in their yearly results. [9] Furthermore, an interesting study conducted by Done and Knowler (2021) involving 21 senior school leaders suggests that schools potentially are aware of loopholes of how allegations of “off-rolling” can be evaded. More importantly, the study demonstrates school leaders’ reluctance and defiance to openly discuss the topic as evident by their low number of participants, with only one head teacher willing to be interviewed face-to-face despite widespread advertising. [10]

But is it entirely the fault of the school? Findings by Machin and Sandi (2020) contested the idea that “off-rolling” is mere “gaming” [11], and their research suggests a greater systematic failure that is due to conflicting interests between a political obsession to maintain academic standards and a goal to allow for inclusive education. [12][13] Underfunding, limited resources, overworked staff, low pay, burn-out teachers forever leaving the profession– schools are at their wit’s end, forced to find ways to work around harsh restrictions. School exclusion becomes a tool used by those in power to mask an inability to effectively carry out inclusive education, and to exert dominance over those who are marginalised.

An Infinite Loop of Social Reproduction

School exclusions can have serious, long-term impacts on young people, but they can also incur serious economic costs with an estimate that each unit of permanently excluded children will go on to cost an astonishing £2.1 billion in education, criminal justice, health and benefits over their life. [4] Many global studies including The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, performed by the University of Edinburgh, pointed to a “school-to-prison” pipeline. [14] This includes Natalia’s uncle who was excluded in Year 7 and since never returned to school and was in the end imprisoned. [15]

The Edinburgh Study found that pupils that are excluded from school at the age of 12 are 5 times more likely to be imprisoned by the age of 24. In addition, boys and children from single-parent and low-income families are found significantly more likely to be excluded. Conversely, it is discovered that students with equally poor behaviour from two-parent families and more affluent backgrounds are more tolerated by schools and less likely to be excluded as a result. Professor Lesley McAra, Head of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law, argues that their study ultimately shows that the criminal justice system is being used as a way to admonish socially marginalised groups and members of society who are living in deprived communities and are vulnerable. [14] This creates a cycle of social reproduction where marginalised groups continue to be oppressed in favour of those in power and exacerbates the hierarchical culture in society.

With Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director, going as far as to admit in 2019 that schools in areas with greater poverty continue to be less likely to be rated as ‘good’ [16], it seems that a great educational reform is in need to have any hope of removing such a deeply rooted and troubling characteristic in British education.

References:

[1] DfE (2022) https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/permanent-and-fixed-period-exclusions-in-england (Accessed: 16 September 2022).

[2] JUSTICE (2019) Challenging School Exclusions. London: Sidley Austin LLP. Available online at https://files.justice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/06165917/Challenging-Report.pdf (Accessed: 16 September 2022).

[3] The University of York (2020) https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/exclusions-english-schools-last-resort/ (Accessed: 30 September 2022).

[4] Weale, S, (2017) ‘School exclusions data in England only “the tip of the iceberg”’, The Guardian, 10 Oct. Available online at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/10/school-exclusion-figures-date-england-only-tip-iceberg (Accessed: 30 September 2022).

[5] DfE (2019) Timpson Review of School Exclusion. Available online at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/799979/Timpson_review_of_school_exclusion.pdf (Accessed: 16 September 2022).

[6] Owen, D. (2019) ‘What is off-rolling, and how does Ofsted look at it on inspection?’. Ofsted: schools and further education & skills (FES), 10 May 2019 [Blog]. Available online at: https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2019/05/10/what-is-off-rolling-and-how-does-ofsted-look-at-it-on-inspection/ (Accessed: 17 September 2022).

[7] Ofsted (2019) The annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/2018. Available online at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/ofsted-annual-report-201718-education-childrens-services-and-skills

[8] Graham, B., White, C., Edwards, A., Potter, S. and Street, C. (2019) School exclusion: A literature review on the continued disproportionate exclusion of certain children. London: DfE.

[9] Children’s Commissioner (2017) Briefing: Falling through the gaps in education. London: Children’s Commissioner for England. Available online at: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2017/11/BRIEFING-Falling-through-the-gaps-in-education-CCO.pdf (Accessed: 6 October 2022).

[10] Done, E. J. and Knowler, H. (2021) ‘Off‐rolling’ and Foucault’s art of visibility/invisibility: An exploratory study of senior leaders’ views of ‘strategic’ school exclusion in southwest England. British Educational Research Journal, 47(4), pp. 1039-1055.

[11] Machin, S. and Sandi, M. (2020) Autonomous schools and strategic pupil exclusion. The Economic Journal, 130(625), pp. 125–159.

[12] Done, E. J. (2019) ‘Education governance and the responsibility to include: Teachers as a site of dis-cursive tension’, in: J. Allan, V. Harwood and C. Jørgensen (eds) World yearbook of education 2020. London: Routledge.

[13] Slee, R. (2014) Discourses of Inclusion and Exclusion: Drawing Wider Margins. Power and Education, 6(1), pp. 7–17.

[14] The University of Edinburgh (2016) https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2013/exclusionprison-280213 (Accessed: 16 September 2022).

[15] BBC Bitesize (2019) https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zd9wkmn (Accessed: 30 September 2022).

[16] Harford, S. (2019) ‘Our latest statistics: a first look at the EIF’. Ofsted: schools and further education & skills (FES), 16 December 2019 [Blog]. Available online at: https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2019/12/16/our-latest-statistics-a-first-look-at-the-eif/ (Accessed: 17 September 2022).

 

The European Youth Work Convention (EYWC) is the central platform for discussing the latest developments in youth work practice and youth policy in Europe. Professionals and multipliers from youth work practice, youth policy and youth research (the youth work community of practice) came together at the beginning of Decemeber to kick off the implementation of the European Youth Work Agenda (EYWA).
As a conclusion to the different panels and discussions, a  final declaration of the 3rd European Youth Work Convention was produced. You can access it here.

Dear Rt Hon Robert Buckland MP,

We write on behalf of the Restorative Justice for All International Institute (RJ4All), a charitable NGO with a mission to advance community cohesion and human rights. Since our inception, RJ4All has carried out numerous Violence Against Women (VAW) programmes, and through the evidence that we have collected we wish to add our support to the views and findings of the recent Report on the Decriminalisation of Rape as well as other academic evidences on the matter including our own such as:
• Gavrielides, T. (2018). Human Rights and Restorative Justice, London: RJ4All Publications. ISBN 978-1-911634-00-3.
• Gavrielides, T. (2018). Equality Matters for Restorative Justice, London: RJ4All Publications. ISBN 978-1-911634-03-4.
• Gavrielides, T. (2015). “Is Restorative Justice appropriate for Domestic Violence cases?”, Social Work Review, XIV, nr. 4/2015, pp. 105-121
• Gavrielides, T. and V. Artinopoulou (2012). “Violence against women and restorative justice”, Asian Journal of Criminology, Volume 8, Issue 1 , pp 25-40 ISNN 1871-0131.
• Gavrielides, T. (2017). “Structured & Unstructured Restorative Justice: The case of violence against women” in Halder, D. and Jaishankar, K. (Eds). Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Overcoming Violence Against Women, Pensilvania: IGI Global Publications.
RJ4All has often pointed out its concerns in relation to the proper functioning of the criminal justice system and its various agencies. We are particularly concerned in relation to carrying out consistently their legal functions in relation to the investigation and prosecution of rape. Protestations have been made to the contrary, but figures and the testimony of survivors do not lie.
We have long advocated for the empowerment of survivors to represent their own needs and reach their own outcomes through restorative justice. In the current situation the Criminal Justice agencies (the CJS) actually prevent this from happening – they do not deliver just or positive outcomes and as currently constituted they fail victims of rape in particular. We are also currently carrying out a VAW EU funded programme https://www.achance4change.eu/ which we would be keen to present to you.
When state agencies fail so fundamentally it becomes critical for Government to take action. Legislation is needed. A Victim’s Law has been years in the waiting and RJ4All has expressed its concerns on a number of occasions. We refer you to some examples of the evidences we have presented on the matter:
• Gavrielides, T. (2017). “Collapsing the labels “victim” and “offender” in the Victims’ Directive & the paradox of Restorative Justice”. Vol 6 International Journal of Restorative Justice, p. 368-381.
• Gavrielides, T. (2015). “The Victims’ Directive and What Victims Want from Restorative Justice”, Victims and Offenders Journal, DOI 10.1080/15564886.2014.982778
The time has come to legalise victims’ rights. The Victims’ Code is not enforceable and is not complied with. The role of the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses (V.C.) needs to be enhanced as a matter of urgency and in line with the recent report into the “Constitutional Powers of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales.” We advocate for the following measures:
• Legal Representation for victims: There is a pressing need for victims to have access to proper legal representation, both in cases of public interest and to enforce victim legislation and regulation. The status of the victim in court as a merely a witness for the Crown is archaic. Ask any woman who has been raped whether she regards herself as not being a legal “party to the proceedings?”
• Right of Address: We advocate for the law to be changed so that victims have the right of address in court, especially in certain circumstances where their character and evidence are challenged as being perjured, or where the allegations made against them may place them at risk.
• Civil prosecutions: As an interim solution, victims should be enabled to pursue those cases set aside by Police and CPS in the civil courts. Victims should have the ability to bring their case to court, and to a conclusion, in a timely manner.
• The Role of the Victims’ Commissioner should be enhanced in line with the recent report into the “Constitutional Powers of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales.” Especially in relation to powers to enforce compliance with relevant regulations and also to receive and direct complaints.
• The role of restorative justice as an educational and prevention tool will need to be revisited with genuine intentions. We have evidence to believe that previous government attempts to promote restorative justice were based on the wrong premise following false assumptions and promises. A wider and more inclusive engagement with restorative justice practitioners working in the community and not only through top down institutions will need to take place.
We will continue to use our research and community-based projects to empower and protect victims. RJ4All would be keen to engage with your Department to take these recommendations forward.
Best wishes,
Ben Lyon   
Chair of the Board 
Dr. Professor Theo Gavrielides 
Founder & Director 
Gabrielle Brown 
RJ4ALL Board Member
Download the letter here

By Dr. Theo Gavrielides RJ4All Founder & Director
15 Dec. 20

A recent study compared how much people working in the private, public and charitable sectors boast about their achievements. Obviously, those working in the voluntary sector came last. This is not surprising. We do what we do as part of our civic duty as most of us make our work … our life. We don’t distinguish the time that we put for ourselves and families from the time we put for others. They are all the same! Although the results of this survey were not surprising, they were helpful as they forced me to look back at what we have collectively achieved this year, and pause for a minute. That minute left me full of gratitude and humility.

2020 has been a special year in so many ways. COVID19’s unprecedented health and socio-economic impacts can only be compared to what followed World War II. As we watched the death toll rise day by day, those of us working in the charitable sector felt double frustrated and lost. The government’s social distancing measures meant that we either had to find new ways of responding to our communities’ needs or accept defeat and either shut down temporarily or indeed close.

At RJ4All, we felt that we had to raise to the challenge. We closed our office and quickly set up a voluntary, home-based infrastructure that simply allowed our staff and volunteers to continue our charitable services. We simply could not watch the spiralling effect of COVID19’s consequences whether these related to health or other socio-economic and educational challenges. We also knew that if we don’t raise to the challenge now, our founding restorative justice values of equality, power sharing, respect and dignity would be betrayed.

But with suffering, inequalities and death, I have also seen our communities coming together like never before. Funders collaborated to coordinate a response to the crisis, while we saw our volunteers increasing by 120% just in 6 months. I could not be more proud of my team. Despite the many challenges, it is without doubt that 2020 has been the strongest year so far for our charitable institute.

We were honoured to have received the Highly Commended Award for the Best Charity in the 2020 Southwark Business Excellence Awards.  RJ4All also received the ESC Quality Mark, signifying that all our policies are compliant with European standards for safeguarding, volunteering and work placements. Moreover, we were one of the 2020 Top 100 social enterprises in the UK (NATWEST SE100), while the Cabinet Office asked us to apply for the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

A huge thank you to the team, the Board, the Patrons, our funders and supporters. A personal thank you to you who is reading this blog. As you read our 2020 Impact Report, please consider joining us as a member, volunteer or just supporter. We need more people like you in these times of solidarity and change. Happy new year from the RJ4All family.

 

Watch this video to discover our current priorities and future plans.

By Sandra Jøgensen

Throughout the years, the Erasmus+ programme has benefitted a lot of people across Europe, including individuals and organisations from the UK. Erasmus+ is an EU funded programme made to support education, training, youth, and sport in Europe. The aim of the programme is to promote growth, employment, equity and social inclusion in Europe through the mentioned fields which are considered essential for the promotion of common European values, social integration, enhancing intercultural awareness and understanding as well as creating a sense of belonging to the same community among the European citizens. Erasmus+ also promotes the inclusion of people with disadvantaged backgrounds such as newly arrived migrants.

Another aim of the programme is to empower young people to actively participate in society and shape the democratic life in Europe by enhancing their skills and competences as well as providing them with professional skills that are required by the labour market in an attempt to enhance employment across Europe.  Thus, this programme is considered an investment in knowledge, skills, and competences that benefits both individuals, organisations, and society as it contributes to growth, equity, prosperity and social inclusion in Europe and beyond (European Commission, 2020, p. 5).

Through the Erasmus+ programme, young people will be provided the opportunity to study, volunteer or gain work experience through training or internships abroad. Through these opportunities they can develop new skills, gain international experience, and enhance their chances of employment in the future. It also provides staff of educational institutions and civil society organisations the opportunity to teach or train abroad which contributes to enhancing their professional practice, creating an international network and gaining new perspectives and ideas. Lastly, the programme also presents organisations the possibility to collaborate with international partners to share best practice, enhance innovation, and offer new opportunities to young people across Europe.

The programme is funded by the European Union, meaning that participants will be covered financially by the European Union when joining the programme which is what makes it possible for many people to go abroad either to study, volunteer or work, as they do not have to worry about how to cover their living expenses in a foreign country. Furthermore, the funding also makes it possible for various projects to be carried out in collaboration with European partners (Erasmus+).

In practice, all this means that the Erasmus+ programmes offers many benefits for both young people, professionals, and organisations, though many of the benefits are often mentioned in relation to young people.

The opportunity to go abroad either to study, volunteer or train is a great experience for young people. It enhances both personal as well as professional skills, as studying, volunteering or working abroad brings with it  a lot of useful knowledge and positive experiences such as testing and learning knew professional skills, gaining more knowledge and awareness of other cultures and their way of doing things, creating new friends and a new network, learning new language skills, and gaining new perspectives on things. Furthermore, by challenging yourself to be in a new an unknown situation, you will surely develop a lot of interpersonal skills and become more mature, independent, and confident as you also learn more about yourself and what you are capable of (Erasmus+).

All these experiences and skills empower young people and contribute to a positive development of their competences. This experience will also benefit young people in the future as it will help them develop skills that are invaluable when seeking employment in the future. International experiences look good on a CV and can help you stand out from the many applicants as many employers regard international experience significant when recruiting new employees (Araujo, 2020). Actually, research has found that people who have had an Erasmus exchange have enhanced employment possibilities and find work more quickly after graduation (Cole, 2018).

However, individuals are not the only ones enjoying the benefits of the Erasmus+ programme. The programme also enhances the connection the UK has with the rest of Europe, as many international students make use of the programme to be able to study in the UK. These students contribute to the international community and diversity present at many of the universities across the UK. In addition to this, these students also make a large economic contribution through their spending in the UK. Lastly, these students help strengthen the international connections of UK as they spread their knowledge about the UK, meaning that the programme also enhances the international promotion of the UK which could lead to further economic and political benefits (Cole, 2018).

Following Brexit, the future of the Erasmus+ programme and its implications for the UK are still unknown. Until the end of 2020 the Erasmus programme has continued to apply for the UK in the same way as before the UK opted for leaving the European Union. However, the government has yet to decide whether the UK will continue to be part of the programme after leaving the EU, as they state that they are open to participating in certain elements of the programme on a time-limited basis, if the terms are in line with UK interests (Reuben, 2020).

However, the government is also considering replacing the Erasmus+ programme with a domestic alternative that will continue supporting international exchange. That being said, it will be difficult to reach the same benefits through a national programme, thus implicating that many of the mentioned benefits of the Erasmus+ programme could potentially be lost to the UK and the UK citizens (Reuben, 2020).

This could be a fatal blow for UK universities as many foreign students may not be able to or want to come to the UK to study without any financial support. This could lead to economic issues, as the economic contributions from exchange students will be heavily reduced. Furthermore, it will make it more difficult for UK citizens to have the opportunity of going abroad and gain the skills and positive experiences which this entails. It will make it especially hard for citizens with a disadvantaged background as they may not receive the necessary support through another programme and can therefore lose the opportunity of going abroad due to their conditions, thus resulting in a more unequal society.

In general, it may also imply that young people will have difficulties gaining the necessary experience to enhance their job opportunities or will not be prepared for working in an international setting. This especially applies to students of language degrees where studying or working abroad is a compulsory part of the degree, meaning that many students may refrain from choosing language studies in the future if they do not have the economic means to finance a stay abroad by themselves. By limiting the opportunities to gain professional skills through international exchange and experiences, the labour market could also suffer and make it harder for the UK to compete with other international companies who may have more experienced and diversified employees (Fazackerley, 2020). Thus, the withdrawal of the UK from the Erasmus programme could have major consequences, both for the citizens of the UK but also for the society.

As a Danish citizen, I have personally gained a lot of benefits from the Erasmus+ programme. It has provided me both with the possibility of volunteering for an organisation in another country as well as studying and doing an internship abroad as part of my university studies. All these experiences have made me gain a lot of interpersonal as well as professional skills and, overall, just given me some amazing experiences in different countries where I got to know amazing friends and learn new things every day. I would not want to be without all these experiences as they have given me so much and I would encourage everyone, who has the opportunity of going abroad through Erasmus, to utilise it.

However, without the funding from the Erasmus+ programme, I probably would not have been able to go abroad so many times and gain so many positive experiences that have contributed immensely to the person I am today. I would therefore be very sad if the young people of the UK miss out on this amazing opportunity to develop themselves both professionally but also personally. Therefore, it is important to make the government aware of what the withdrawal from the Erasmus+ programme really means, both to individuals but also to the society.

 

 

Araujo, C. (2020) 10 Benefits of the Erasmus Exchange Program. Eurosender. Retrieved November 3, 2020 from: https://www.eurosender.com/blog/en/10-benefits-of-erasmus/

 

Cole, J. (2018) Why Erasmus is important for students. Russell Group. Retrieved November 3, 2020 from: https://russellgroup.ac.uk/news/the-importance-of-student-exchange/

 

Erasmus+. About Erasmus+. Retrieved November 3, 2020 from:

https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/about-erasmus#

 

Erasmus+. Why take part? Retrieved November 4, 2020 from:

https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/why-take-part

It is no surprise that being in isolation has had an immense negative impact on people’s mental health. Yet, as lockdown restrictions ease, how will mental health be affected? For some, being able to go out and meet up with friends and family will bring joy and excitement, but for others it can bring severe anxiety.

After nearly 5 months of staying inside, it can feel strange to go out into public spaces. We have gotten so accustomed to staying inside that it feels almost unnatural to go back to work, to a restaurant, or to a loved one’s house. It is also very probable that people will feel anxious, nervous, or even stressed about resuming activities they were once so used to due to the worry of contracting Covid-19 and passing it on to others. Moreover, it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the ‘right’ things to do when it comes to going out, including wearing facemasks, making sure to stay around 2 metres apart from others and sanitising frequently.

Young people and those experiencing mental illness are especially vulnerable when it comes to the pandemic. For people with mental illnesses such as social anxiety disorder, social situations are tough enough without having to add the fear of getting infected. YoungMinds reports that young people will need extra mental health support after lockdown as many of them are experiencing anxiety about life ‘returning back to normal’. Adding on, data from the Mental Health in the Pandemic study shows that 32% of young people and 31% of people with pre-existing mental conditions in the study’s sample still feel hopeless as lockdown rules are relaxed.

It is clear to see that Covid-19 is greatly affecting people’s mental health, both during lockdown and after it. With so much uncertainty going around, it is important to take care of oneself and others. Practicing meditation, keeping in touch with loved ones, and seeking support if needed, are all ways to cope with anxiety surrounding ‘the new normal’.

Posted by Lara Riad.

The message from government over the past 5 weeks has been to “Stay Home,” “Protect the NHS” and to “Save Lives”. These measures have been seen as crucial in the fight to overcome coronavirus. However, for over 300,000 people in the UK, following this guidance is not easy, and for some, it is impossible. There are an estimated 320,000 homeless individuals in the UK. 2019 data suggests that on a “typical night”, 4,266 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on the streets of England (Homeless Link, 2020). During the coronavirus pandemic, this puts those without permanent housing in a unique and dangerous position, and leads to the question: how can homeless people possibly be expected to stay safe during this crisis?

 

Much of the advice and guidance provided by the government is only applicable to the general population. Measures such as staying home, keeping good hygiene practices and social distancing can prove to be almost impossible for those with unstable housing situations. According to the homeless charity Shelter, for “thousands of families with children currently stuck in cramped emergency B&Bs and hostels, it can be almost impossible to follow NHS isolation guidance” (Shelter, 2020).

 

Those residing in crowded temporary housing are not able to socially distance from others, and if one individual in the residence were to contract Covid-19, it puts everyone in the building at high risk. Furthermore, those sleeping rough, are unable to “stay at home”, distance from others or maintain hygiene like regular hand washing. This is not only a problem for physical health, but also for mental health, as the anxiety and fear of being infected is likely to be heightened in crowded situations or when living on the streets.

 

One’s housing situation itself is a social determinant of health, with homeless individuals being more susceptible to health complications because of poor nutrition, compromised immune systems and an increased level of respiratory disorders (Crisis, 2020). Those who sleep rough have a life expectancy 30 years lower than the average person (Office of National Statistics, 2018). Homeless charities are becoming increasingly concerned, that as well as being at higher risk, those without permanent housing may struggle to access the health services they might require during the pandemic (Shelter, 2020).

 

Despite government measures to ensure that all rough sleepers are housed in appropriate emergency accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic, there are a number of challenges that the homeless population still face. Unfortunately, not everyone without a home is eligible for the scheme. Those with certain immigration statuses, such as refused asylum seekers or those who have not formally applied as homeless to their local councils cannot benefit from this measure. This once again leaves a section of society unprotected in this uncertain time.

 

Maintaining the physical and mental health of all people during this pandemic is paramount. It must not be forgotten that the homeless population still make up part of our society and it must be ensured that they are not excluded from social, economic and health policy.

 

Post by Rebecca Mutsatsa

 

Sources

 

Crisis. (2020). Crisis Emergency Fund. Retrieved from Crisis : https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/in-this-together/?meganav=1

 

Glenton, J. (2018). Research shows that many rough sleepers have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives. Retrieved from Riverside: https://www.riverside.org.uk/rough-sleepers/ 

 

Homeless Link. (2020). Rough sleeping. Retrieved from homeless.org: https://www.homeless.org.uk/facts/homelessness-in-numbers/rough-sleeping/rough-sleeping-our-analysis

 

Office of National Statistics. (2018). Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2013 to 2017. Office of National Statistics.

 

Shelter(2020, Mar 17). Shelter Press Releases. Retrieved from Shelter: https://england.shelter.org.uk/media/press_releases/articles/shelter_responds_to_3.2_million_emergency_support_for_rough_sleepers_during_coronavirus_outbreak

 

 

Wall, T. (2020, Apr 12). Cramped living conditions may be accelerating UK spread of coronavirus. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/12/virus-hitting-hardest-modern-equivalent-victorian-slums

 

 

The Lancet. (2020). Covid-19: a potential public health problem for homeless populations. The Lancet, 5.