In April 2005 Clare Donaldson was volunteering at a weekly Art Club in Oxford for disadvantaged, young people. Afterwards, she was subjected to an unprovoked attack that left her shaken and covered in blood.

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Restorative justice gave me a chance to speak and it gave him a chance to speak - it really helps you to move on.



I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at the Club and always looked forward to working with the children.

As the session ended, I went outside to remove the poster from the netting outside. Four boys were playing football and rather than disturb them, I waited for a natural break in their play, before proceeding to take the poster down.

Nothing seemed untoward, but in a split second, one boy who had a look of defiance in his eyes, kicked the football as hard as he could directly at me. It hit my face with such force that I almost lost my footing. My nose took the brunt and the blood instantly started to gush down my clothing and arms.

Two of the boys who looked a bit older than the others, told the boy to say sorry, but rather than wait around to see what happened next, I made my way back to the Community Centre and banged on the door for help. My colleagues were shocked at the sight of me - admittedly I looked a lot worse than I actually was, but this is not what I had imagined when signing up to do voluntary work.

When I arrived home, my husband was so upset and concerned about what happened that he didn't want me to return to the Club the next week - but I did as I felt it was important to continue giving the Club support.

Over the next few months I was admittedly apprehensive whenever I was near a group of young people, but apart from that, I felt I had dealt with the whole incident and moved on. After about six months, the Director of the Community Centre approached me and asked if I would like to meet up with the 13 year old boy to tell him how the incident had affected me and I immediately said yes.

The boy brought a friend along for moral support, there were two members of staff and me. I wasn't sure how it was all going to work out and the boy looked a bit sheepish, which is understandable. I started by telling him how it had affected me and that my husband was also really, really upset. The boy looked shocked as I talked about my husband.

He didn't say very much to be honest, but seeing him again made me realise that he wasn't a tear-away afterall, he was just a young boy.

He apologised and I told him to put it behind him now and to have a good life. We all shook hands and that was it.

I left feeling happy - it was a brilliant experience.