Professor Michael Taylor - Emeritus Professor of Social Theology, University of Birmingham and former Director of Christian Aid for twelve years from 1985–97, and from 2001–04 Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.
He was closely involved in the creation of the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics. He was President of the Jubilee 2000 Debt Campaign and has chaired numerous NGOs.
Michael is interested in using the insights of faith traditions (mainly Christianity) to inform social policy especially in the area of poverty reduction and human development.
Most recently he has joined a research team at Regent’s Park College, in the University of Oxford, exploring Restorative Justice policy and practice. Current empirical studies are investigating the place (if any/positive and negative) of forgiveness in Restorative Justice Conferencing.
It has been a busy year. In the first two quarters (for cases that closed in the 6 months from April to September) we were able to contact 113 people harmed by the crimes committed by the young people under supervision of the youth justice system over that 6 month period. 74% opted to be involved in a restorative process, of which 21.2% were involved in a face to face restorative meeting and 53.09% were involved an indirect restorative process (eg. letter of apology, shuttle mediation). The remaining 25.6% were contacted, consulted and updated on the case, but declined any involvement in restorative justice. The team have also delivered training in restorative approaches to all the children’s home staff and run two training days for managers in the restorative approach. The Youth Justice Service is exploring what it means to be a restorative organisation. Meanwhile the Youth Justice Service is just settling again after a restructure, prompted by a 20% staff cut. The fact that the restorative justice staff weren’t cut is testament to the importance that Oxfordshire County Council places on restorative justice.
Nationally, the review into youth justice (The Charlie Taylor Review) commissioned by the last government has finally been published, with the government response suggesting that:
- The Youth Justice Board will probably continue to exist
- Budgets for youth justice services from central government to local councils will continue to be ring-fenced
- There are no plans to abolish youth offending teams, although local areas will be given more freedom to be creative in how youth justice is delivered
- There is a big emphasis on the plight and needs of young people in youth custody, with suggestions for smaller more local provision, and a strong focus on education and health
In other news the local Oxford Charity SAFE! which supports young people affected by crime, is exceeding its targets and if referrals continue as they have been, could be supporting 580 young people this financial year – the biggest categories being young people who have experienced sexual abuse and those who have witnessed or experienced domestic abuse. We also have recruited Ruth Donaldson to head up the child on parent violence project, and the next group starts in Oxford on 24th January.
A day of fascinating dialogue was spent at The Mint House in order to challenge prejudice and stereotypes. A Human Library is just like a real library, except that books are people and reading is a conversation.
The Human Books were deliberately given thought-provoking titles in order for readers to enquire further such as:-
A Syrian Refugee
A Transgender Christian
A Palestinian from Gaza
A Brain Injury
A Gay Minister
Stories from a Prison Cell
My Motorbike & God
Is Epilepsy the End?
The books were borrowed 45 times and readers left spellbound. The Oxford Mail and Times featured the event and those who came can't wait until we host our next Human Library (keep an eye on our events and news pages for details of future events).
Being able to have a snapshot into someone else’s life, someone you wouldn’t usually meet, is so humbling and really reminds us of our humanity. There’s always a human face. John
Oxford East MP, Andrew Smith very kindly cut the ribbon and launched The Mint House at our open evening.
It was a great opportunity to tell people what our exciting plans for The Mint House are and to showcase the powerful benefits of Restorative Approaches.