two hands reaching to touch each other

Relational and Restorative Practice Community of Inquiry Group

Better understanding and drawing value from relationships and how we research and evidence their value

Who We Are: Welcome to the Relational/Restorative Practice Community of Inquiry. We’re a dedicated group from the Portsmouth Mediation Service, University of Portsmouth, and Portsmouth City Council. Our focus is on the power of relationships to bring people together and make our communities stronger.

Our Vision: We believe in making a positive impact through better relationships. Our group explores how understanding relationships better can improve the way we work, live, and interact.

What We Do: In 2023, we held four workshops that brought people together to learn from each other about relationships and how to make them work better. These workshops were a chance to share ideas, ask tough questions, and learn from different experiences. This coming year, we're organising a conference on July 15th, 2024, at the University of Portsmouth. We want to keep building on what we've started in our workshops. The conference will be a great opportunity to meet more people, learn new things, and share your own experiences.

If you’re interested in making relationships better at work, at home, or in your community, we’d love for you to join us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional in the field, someone who makes policy, or just interested in learning more—you have something important to contribute.

Join us at the Restorative Relationships in Practice Conference!

We're delighted to invite you to this year's conference, a continuation of our successful quarterly series from 2023, designed to bring together practitioners from public and voluntary sectors, academics, and the public in Portsmouth. Funded by NHS Workforce Training and Employment and supported by Portsmouth's Health and Wellbeing Board and the University of Portsmouth's Civic Strategy, this conference aims to deepen understanding and develop partcipants' skills in restorative and relational approaches.

Date: Monday 15th July 2024

Time: 9:30am - 3:30pm

Location: University of Portsmouth Eldon Building, Winston Churchill Avenue, PO1 2DJ


09:15-10:00 - Registration and refreshments

10:00-10:45 - Conference Welcome including Keynote Speaker

10:45-12:00 - Morning Sessions: A mixture of presentations, workshops and discussions

12:00-12:30 - Networking in Zones

12:30-13:00 - Lunch

13:00-13:30 - Networking in Zones

13:30-14:45 - Afternoon Sessions: A mixture of presentations, workshops and discussions

14:45-15:45 - Plenary/Conference reflections

Conference Highlights:

  • Keynote Speaker: Peter Leonard, Chief Executive, The Centre for Emotional Health
  • Engage with experts: Learn from a diverse line-up of speakers who will share their insights on the theory, applications, and practical tools of restorative and relational practices.
  • Interactive sessions: Engage in discussions and workshops that explore tools and techniques, learning how to apply these practices in your work.
  • Networking opportunities: Meet and connect with others who share a passion for building collaborative, meaningful community relationships.
  • Please see below for further details of workshops, contributors, and talks.

Organised by Portsmouth's Relational and Restorative Practice Community of Inquiry

About us - a group of colleagues from Portsmouth Mediation Service, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Hospitals University Trust and Portsmouth City Council. We share an interest in the theories that help us better understand and draw value from relationships, and how we research and evidence their value and the conditions that support them to thrive.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your professional and personal life with meaningful connections and practical and theoretical insights.

Make sure to mark your calendar and prepare to join us for an energising and informative day.

We look forward to welcoming you and sharing an inspiring day focused on making a positive impact through restorative and relational approaches.
Exhibit and Promote Your Work: There's also an opportunity for organisations that champion restorative practices to showcase their work. For more information on setting up a display stand with your promotional material, please email

Accessibility and special requirements: We will endeavour to provide particular access requirements on request. If you have any access requirements, e.g wheelchair access and hearing loops, please get in touch in advance of the event.

How to get here: Find out how to get here by checking our maps and directions.

Parking: Parking in Portsmouth is extremely limited, we encourage you to use the train, bus, cycle routes, or the city’s Park ‘n’ Ride facility.

Dietary Requirements: If you are registering after 1st July, we are unable to guarantee specific requirements.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact If you would like to book, please follow the link to register.

Conference Talks, Workshops and Contributors

Peter is the Chief Executive at The Centre for Emotional Health, a charity whose vision is “Everyone living an emotionally healthy life”. They aim to do this by promoting an approach to life and relationships that equips and supports individuals, families, communities and organisations to be emotionally healthy. Underpinned by The Nurturing Programme, their approach is relational and empowering and highlights the link between behaviour and feelings in the context of relationships; all their programmes develop self-awareness, empathy and self-regulation, supporting people to build and maintain positive relationships. 

Peter began a career in marketing and public relations before moving to the faith sector. In 2001 he trained as one of The Centre for Emotional Health Parent Group Leaders going on to set up a company offering training and support to families. Peter has been a teacher, deputy headteacher and head of school in primary education. He is also a school governor and has experience as Chair of a small Multi Academy Trust and trustee and Chair of Trustees for various charities.

Peter lives with his husband in Petersfield near the South Coast of England and has two grown up children. He enjoys baking, going to the gym, and kayaking. He also thinks that he should be the next person to play Doctor Who in his favourite TV series.

Peter is passionate about the importance of emotional health for everyone and is keen to see both greater awareness and a framework of support for people to improve their emotional health and relationships. Emotional health is the ‘golden thread’ which runs through everything, and Peter is looking forward to exploring at the conference what emotional health is, why it matters and what it means for restorative practice.

Kerry Gilbert, Emergency Department Matron at Queen Alexandra Hospital (Portsmouth University Hospitals NHS Trust) has led an initiative that was developed in the emergency department at QA following a safeguarding adult review lead by Portsmouth Safeguarding Adult Board.  Learning from the review included the importance of communication and collaborative working between agencies to safeguard and support those experiencing homelessness. Multi Agency Safeguarding and Support Team (MASST) was developed to bring those agencies together.  Kerry will share her experience of designing and implementing a process that prioritises relationships and collaboration.

Charli O'Mara CAMHS Liaison Senior Practitioner (Solent NHS Trust) at Queen Alexandra Hospital will share her team's experience of using Safety Huddles to enable staff to effectively support children and young people in their care. Charli has applied restorative practice principles to embed an intervention that improves patient care and staff wellbeing, and involves all members of the team, clinical and non-clinical.

Molly Penney and Charlie Roberts are Engagement Officers at Portsmouth City Council.  For the past three years, they have worked on creating inclusive community engagement programmes for multiple challenging, high-profile developments, projects and workstreams. Their tools and approaches have enabled them to break down barriers to inclusivity in order to better reach marginalised and minority groups, complementing tried and tested engagement routes with the design and implementation of creative, innovative and human-oriented techniques.  Join Molly and Charlie to learn about the tools and approaches you could use to work more closely with local communities. 

Melanie Tanner, Sarah Harper and Dr Jason Oakley from University of Portsmouth's School of Health and Care Professions have worked with local Higher Education Institutions and NHS Trusts (funded by NHS England) to introduce a Schwartz Rounds programme to newly registered and soon to be qualified, health and social care practitioners. Schwartz Rounds enable those working in health and social care settings to reflect on the emotional impacts of working in care. The audience will observe a Schwartz Round demonstration and will hear from speakers from social and healthcare backgrounds sharing their stories about the impact that this restorative practice has had on them. 

Dr Lisa Sugiura and Professor Peter Lee from the University of Portsmouth will focus on staff safety and wellbeing in the presence of trauma.  Lisa and Pete have both experienced trauma in the course of their work and endeavour to prepare others for the unpredictable and complex responses that individuals may experience in either work or everyday life. Lisa’s research on online gender-based violence has involved her immersion in deeply misogynistic and discriminatory web spaces, interacting with extremist groups, and supporting victim-survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Pete has been a military chaplain during war time, undertaken field work with RAF military drone crews as they conducted surveillance and lethal strikes, and surveyed the mental health and wellbeing of police child sex crime investigators. Their aim for this session is to raise awareness of vicarious trauma (whether disclosed or undisclosed) and its impact on staff wellbeing, through the sharing of personal experiences.

Laura Hyman is a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in the school of Area Studies, Sociology, History.  Laura's research interest is in the sociological study of happiness and her talk will focus on workplace wellbeing.  Restorative practice is all about building healthy communities and improving relationships between people. This is significantly easier to accomplish when we are feeling ‘well’ ourselves. This session will cover what ‘wellbeing’ means in an employment context and explores ways in which it can be built within workplaces, drawing on sociological and psychological theories and published research. It will also include some participatory elements; attendees will have the opportunity to build up understandings of what can contribute to employee wellbeing in their own workplace settings and take these away to apply within their own environments.  

Ellenor Gray is a Clinical Associate Psychologist for Solent NHS Trust.  Her research on self-compassion highlights how this misunderstood skill is crucial for health, performance, and relationships. Interventions that raise levels of self-compassion demonstrate improvements in many areas of life including workplaces, and even elite athlete and footballer performance. Berating ourselves is a natural response to mistakes, but such a response can cause you to miss learning opportunities so the more self-compassionate you are, the faster you recover from failure and take the learning forward.  Elle's talk will give an overview of evidence for the intervention, her current research in the application of Mindful Self-Compassion for NHS staff burnout, and an opportunity to try an experiential MSC practice.

Bec Mason is the Relational and Restorative Practice in Schools Implementation Lead for Portsmouth and is delighted to be part of the relationships revolution our world so clearly needs. Bec is well practised in applying this approach in education, social work, sex offender treatment, parenting, in the Local Authority, with leaders and in the community.  

Tools for Effective Conversations are transformative in the board room, the living room the court room and the classroom! We'll practice models that might surprise you with their ease of applicability and powerful positive impact.


Jenni Wessels is a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth's School of Health and Care Professions.  Jenni has a masters in Restorative Practice and has applied the approach in local government, the voluntary sector and now in her work at the university. Jenni will share her experience of a recent project that invited members of the Portsmouth community to have a conversation with academics about the training of health and care professionals, using the Restorative Practice continuum.  The approach sought to build relationships that enabled the community members to influence the University's approach to the education of Health and Social Care Professionals.


This workshop will introduce the concept of community conversations and support attendees to explore how to establish their own spaces to listen to community members in a way that shapes action

John Swindell is a Restorative Practice pioneer and consultant with many years of experience of introducing people in Portsmouth and elsewhere, across all sectors, to restorative ways of thinking and behaving.  Healthy relationships are the bedrock for Restorative leadership and team building for maximum impact and minimum stress. However, in our western society we have created a culture that is more focused on individualism, “you can be whatever you want to be” at the expense of collaboration and teamwork. If we then add into the mix the fact that most people haven’t learned how to handle conflict or disagreements it has a significant impact on productivity, creativity, and wellbeing.  With a few exceptions most leadership models and teamwork are based upon a post Industrial Revolution model that stifles creativity. John's session will show us how, by adapting restorative principles and practices there is a simple but radically different way of working.

Rob Anderson-Weaver is Public Health Workforce Development practitioner at Portsmouth City Council. Rob has coordinated and delivered MECC training for many years in Portsmouth and is experienced in coaching, event management and public speaking. Healthy Conversation Skills are part of MECC and help people to be person centred and solution focused and are key for conflict management and customer service. MECC is supported by a strong evidence base that shows its effectiveness in the NHS and care settings and in wider contexts. Rob will lead an interactive session using a real-life scenario and Mentimeter technology to help the audience learn about the most effective responses to a specific health challenge.

Mahasin Newaz is a MPharm student and Dr Nicola Barnes is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth.  Mahasin and Nicola have worked with Rob to evaluate MECC training to MPharm students at the university.  They will share their methods and key findings, highlighting the impact of the training on the healthy lifestyle choices of pharmacy service users and the future pharmacy workforce.

Sue Knight is a Project Officer at University of Portsmouth. She has spent over 15 years gaining skills in relationship building using Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) and mindfulness techniques which have helped her facilitate health collaboration amongst diverse groups. 

This session is an exploration of the Prosocial Matrix, highlighting its significance in building empathy, mutual understanding, and cooperative action towards shared goals. Attendees will be guided through the individual-focused ACT Matrix to identify personal values and behaviours that align with those values. Sue will demonstrate how to develop intentional behaviours that move us closer to our values and teach us to recognise behaviours primarily aimed at relieving challenging inner experiences, such as difficult thoughts and emotions. By setting the intention to notice behaviours, attendees will learn to discern which actions are workable and which are not. This foundation paves the way for the focus of our workshop: the application of the Prosocial Matrix in fostering restorative relationships in any context, including challenging ones! Through interactive group exercises, participants will apply the Prosocial Matrix to real-life scenarios, illustrating its power to transform disconnection into opportunities for understanding and collaboration. This hands-on experience will not only clarify the ideas behind the Prosocial Matrix but also show how it can be used in real situations, whether in personal life, at work, or within the community.

List of Conference Exhibitors

We believe in working together to improve the lives of children and families and we use restorative practice to support our work to make a positive difference to those we work with. By thinking creatively and being pro-active we can enable and empower our service users to take responsibility and move forward with their lives. 

Vision: Portsmouth Mediation Service aims to operate as a centre of Excellence and Influence in seeing Portsmouth established as a Restorative City. 

Mission: Through a journey of assessment, mediation and restorative practice, we will partner with other envisioned people and organisations to help seek the Peace and Prosperity of a Restorative Portsmouth.

URBOND is a Portsmouth based charity working to advance racial harmony, equality and diversity for the public benefit through its Community Integration Programme. Since 2013, we have brought together over 50,000 people spanning 80 different nationalities. This work runs alongside URBOND’s Youth Development Programme which is driving opportunities, wellness and success for underserved young people in the city. We implement restorative practice within our work to help build and develop relationships and build a strong, cohesive community for all.

At RJ Hampshire we create an opportunity for those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, to communicate about what has happened. As a team of Restorative Justice Practitioners, we provide a safe and empowering process where all parties are supported to repair the harm and find a positive way forward. Our service and processes are built on restorative principles, and it is our mission to ensure that Restorative Justice is available to all victims/survivors of crime/ conflict in Hampshire

Restorative practice is very useful to us at Portsmouth Parent Voice. It helps build trust and understanding among parent carers, the Local Authority, and service providers. This ensures that any concerns raised by parent carers are addressed quickly and constructively. It provides a holistic support system for parent carers, strengthening their ability to advocate for their children. Restorative practice also helps us empower parent carers, helping the effectiveness of our services and ensuring they meet the needs of families with disabled children and young people. 

‘Chat over Chai’, is an informal, informative and independent, Community group, which aims to support physical, mental and emotional well-being, whilst reducing social isolation and promoting community cohesion. We offer a welcoming, friendly space where adults (18 +) from all communities and backgrounds will feel included, especially those who may feel vulnerable or excluded in more formal settings. The principles of Restorative practice support Chat over Chai’s relational mission to combat social isolation, foster cohesion and promote cooperation within our community through developing listening skills, respecting one another and giving room to express views in a safe and respectful environment. Listening to one another is key, as is the opportunity to be heard.

Restorative Relationships in Practice: Many hundreds of LGBT+ Veterans were dismissed the Armed Forces between 1967 and the year 2000 because of their sexuality. Known as the 'Gay Ban', an aggressive programme of interrogation, akin to a 'witch hunt', was launched by the Special Investigation Branch to identify serving personal who were considered LGBT+. Those who were identified were immediately dismissed with loss of pay, career and pensions. Their housing and accommodation were removed along with their medals and cap badges. Some were court marshalled and imprisoned, others dismissed dishonourably, many suffered constructive dismissal as an alternative to the threat of imprisonment and 'outing'. 

In May 2023, Lord Etherton, published his report into the impact the historic military 'Gay Ban' had on a generation of LGBT+ veterans who have been traumatised, isolated and have suffered a poor quality of life. He made 49 recommendations in his report and a programme of Restorative Measures has now been launched, although details of financial reparation are still to be announced. 

One of Fighting with Pride's roles is to bring together LGBT+ veterans in order to give them a voice and help integrate them back into the wider military community. Learning from the University of Portsmouth Restorative Relationships in Practice programme will help assist in this healing process.

Our vision is to improve the Welfare and Wellbeing of residents across East Hampshire and to improve the lives of  vulnerable people living in our community (Welfare & Wellbeing Strategy (2020-2024). Through our collaboration with key partners from local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations, we champion restorative practice to support an ageing population and improve community connectivity and sense of place. Together, we have been organising annual Dementia Festival since 2019. The event offers many great opportunities for people living with dementia and their families to receive expert advice, legal support, medical support, compassion and companionship. Our next Dementia Festival will take place on the 4th of October 2024 from 10.00am to 3.00pm at the Festival Hall in Petersfield.

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust serves a local population of around 675,000 people. We offer a full range of hospital services from our main site at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth as well as a range of outpatient and diagnostic facilities at community sites and local treatment centres across Portsmouth and Southeast Hampshire, including at St Mary’s Hospital, Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Fareham Hospital and Petersfield Community Hospital.

Our Research and Innovation team is currently running over 200 research studies into a range of conditions including asthma, heart disease, arthritis, maternity, cancer, surgery and more. We have a dedicated team of Patient Research Ambassadors who work alongside research professionals to ensure that patient voice and lived experience are woven into our research studies. Come and talk to us about how we’re working to make clinical research design more inclusive and accessible for people across our community.

Previous Events

Seminar 1: "Discovering Forgiveness"

This presentation is based on the outcomes of a project between Pushing Change and Dr Aaron Pycroft from University of Portsmouth School of Criminology and Criminal Justice which has co-produced generative principles based on understanding and working with forgiveness to enable discovery of the self when addicted to alcohol and other drugs.

The seminar workshops will take place at the Oasis Centre and the first one will be on Thursday 12th January in the morning. The session will take place between 9.30am and 11.30am, and the space will be available from 9.15am-12.00am for networking.

Seminar 2: "A Relational and Restorative Practice approach in Portsmouth's schools"

This session is an opportunity to hear about and learn from the progress in 'Relational and Restorative Practice' (RRP) in Portsmouth schools. The seminar will set the scene of RRP in schools and why it is important, followed by a case study presentation from Trafalgar School, a leader in this approach. A key question for leaders and practitioners is how do we share the learning and practice from a model of working well in one school, to shape practice in another? What resources do we need, what strategies can we use, (and what support is needed) to grow novel RRP models that suit the different contexts in which they are developing?

The seminar workshops will take place at the Oasis Centre and the first one will be on Thursday 30th March in the morning. The session will take place between 9.30am and 11.30am, and the space will be available from 9.15am-12.00am for networking.

John Swindell will lead this session sharing concepts of leadership and team working based on Social Control Theory. John has many years of experience in coaching, consulting and training in Restorative Practice - across various social sectors including Education, Health services, Faith organisations, Prison Service, Voluntary and Community Sector and Policing. This seminar session includes a talk from John, and an opportunity to reflect on the concepts as they relate to your own team working and leadership experiences. John is an engaging and inspiring speaker with many practical tips and examples to share. 

Increasingly public bodies and organisations are looking to co-production partnerships to tackle social problems. This seminar will provide examples of co-production in practice and the ways in which these change and challenge the traditional approach to how research/information gathering is planned, implemented and reported. A key focus of the seminar will be on how using relational and restorative practices can ensure a more authentic approach to successful co-production partnerships. Restorative practice promotes ways of working with or alongside people (individually and collectively) to support them to reach their potential, and to contribute in a way that builds on their strengths and what is important to them.

The session will be introduced by Dr Aaron Pycroft (University of Portsmouth, Criminology) followed by three illustrative talks:

  • The Sandbox project: A story of co-produced community-led research (Sandbox project core group).

  • Using the Pro-Social Model for strong and effective relationships in co-production (Sue Knight, University of Portsmouth)

  • Restorative Circles and how to run them (John Swindell)



Relational and Restorative Practice 2023: "Discovering Forgiveness"

Watch on YouTube

John Swindell Leadership and Team working With Lisa Wills (PCC) and Steve Rolls (PMS)

Watch on YouTube

Contact us

Dr Dominic Pearson

Reader in Professional Research & Practice in Forensic Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth


Caroline Strevens

Professor of Legal Education, School of Law, University of Portsmouth


Dr Aaron Pycroft

Reader in Criminal Justice and Social Complexity, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Portsmouth


Dr Gail Mann

Research Development Lead, Portsmouth City Council 


Sue Knight

Civic Project Officer, University of Portsmouth