Source: (2002) Paper presented at "Dreaming of a New Reality," the Third International Conference on Conferencing, Circles and other Restorative Practices, August 8-10, 2002, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Early intervention work, preventative interventions and restorative and corrective practices abound. Training in doing it, manuals to support practice, websites for on-going support point to an increasingly ‘professionalised’ strategy. North America has been prolific in developing and branding specialist, ‘manualised’ services. Along with this have gone powerful dissemination, merchandising and ‘product testing’. To prevent education failure and the development of anti-social behaviour we have Headstart, High/Scope Perry Pre-school, DISTAR and Cognitive Enrichment Advantage etc. For addressing delinquency there is an equally wide range of structured restorative arrangements. These approaches have a growing appeal in the UK but they confront professional cultures which are more holistic and less specialised. Inter-agency, multi-professional, joined up services are currently favoured yet some evidence suggests workers with a key link role and limited training can have as much success by ‘just being there for us’. Additionally there is considerable effort invested in ‘regenerating communities’; part of this is to train local activists to engage with the community in addressing its problems. Thus, befriending, mentoring, family visiting and volunteer family support are gaining ground as approaches that place LESS reliance on trained professionals to DELIVER services TO a passive, troubled individual, family or community. The discussion extends to a weighing of the expertise external professionals bring to a ‘problem’ individual or family and the strength of community belongingness and local knowledge. Additionally consideration is given to notions of professional despotism and disempowerment. Author's abstract.


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