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Reporting from the American Humane Conference on Family Group Decision Making this morning, Ted Wachtel writes:


Nigel Richardson gave an excellent opening keynote that relied on the critical themes of restorative practices for helping children in the two cities where he has served as director of Children's Services: Hull and Leeds, UK.

The title of his keynote was "Only Connect...Transforming Life Chances — How Serious Are We?"

He began with the quote from E. M. Forster's book, Howards End: "Live in fragments no longer. Only connect."

Families are happier, more cooperative and more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them rather than to them or for them.

Richardson adapted the IIRP's fundamental premise of restorative practices as the rationale for why we must engage families in decision making about their own family members:

"Families are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them rather than to them or for them."

He asserted that only by concerning ourselves with what life is like for children growing up in their own communities — in a holistic and interdisciplinary way — can we improve their life chances.

He said we must focus on social capital and the quality of relationships that are essential to a good life.

Richardson displayed IIRP's "social discipline window" to illustrate how we must engage with people: striking a balance between setting limits and providing support and nurturing.

And he detailed the start-up of Hull, the first restorative city, and his efforts to apply the lessons learned to his new job in Leeds and how those lessons might be helpful to those in the conference audience.