Foundation to the Work: Restorative Practice Training

Do you often circle up with a group, create shared values, and have refreshingly open and honest conversations as each person respectfully listens to one other?

The answer is no for many of you and myself, and the thought can sound slightly “cheese-y”. But, there are people in Buncombe County looking to share the knowledge of Restorative Practices, which subsequently involves a fair amount of “circle” work, as described above. The values and education shared in this work is rooted in many Indigenous cultures. Respect, compassion, dignity, accountability, and inclusion of all members of the community are essential aspects of Indigenous cultures from around the world and are also crucial to Restorative Practices.



Although “circle work,” aptly named, is a significant aspect of bringing Restorative Practices into our daily lives, it is not the sole method by which our community can make strides to create safe, critical, and honest spaces. 

But to first understand how Restorative Practices show up in the Asheville and Buncombe County community, it might be nifty to know what they are! In the most basic definition, Restorative Practices are a system of principles and processes that build and sustain a culture of respect, responsibility, and accountability.

Many types of restorative practice deal with various values that occur in daily life. For example, there is the art of restorative justice, restorative discipline, and restorative language. In addition, there are tiers of practices ranging from individual and small group circles to intensive intervention practices. These and many more aim to create and sustain trusting relationships based on communally agreed-upon values. At United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County(UWABC),  Restorative Practices are always taught with a trauma-informed, racially equitable, and data-based decision-making approach. 

While the Restorative Practices training hosted at UWABC is geared slightly more towards School-based communities, the breadth of information applies to nearly every- relationship-centered workplace or community. In the first Restorative Practices of 2023, beginning in February, over 30 community members from all walks of life who signed up for the two-day training.

Here's What Two Community Members Had to Say About Their Training: 



Erin Haywood is a community member with a vested interest in Restorative Practices, she has worked with youth as well as coaching adults. “Being trained as a school counselor and seeing how powerful restorative practices can be for youth. I knew I wanted to continue to equip myself with those tools and techniques”, said Haywood as she discussed why she signed up for the free two-day training.

 Erin chatted with us about all the aspects she enjoyed about the training and frequently noted how the group was encouraged to hold space for each other's humanity. And with that, Haywood spoke on how she has seen when the community holds space for humanity and how this also opens the door for the harder and critical aspects of Restorative Practices. “As a community, if we are willing to get critical about what are the real circumstances, challenges, and barriers,” said Haywood, “I think on the other side of it we can get to some concrete solutions.”

Although he comes from a vastly different background than Haywood,  Kevin Rockey, currently studying for his Master's in Social work at Western North Carolina University, also came to some similar conclusions during and after the training. “It’s easy to stay in our own bubble”, said Rockey, “and avoid the discomfort of creating connections or, from a social work perspective confronting injustices or inequity in all the ways it appears. But it is how we make that change we want.” 

The issues of injustice, communal healing, and inequity can be daunting challenges, but Rockey notes, “Restorative Practice is very foundational, there’s nothing mind-blowingly new, and yet if you don’t have the foundation, you can’t do the real change. You can’t have the impact that you would otherwise.” 

Restorative Practice is scalable to big and small issues because it is the foundation of connection. Both Erin Haywood and Kevin Rockey left the training with how they themselves can scale Restorative Practices in their work or personal life. 

“I walked away from that session with a commitment to myself. If I see harm is happening, I can’t stay silent about it, and I have speak about it, and I have to keep people and systems and organizations accountable for the harm they are doing”, said Haywood. 

Rockey chose to look at how Restorative Practices intertwine with his studies as a Social worker by saying, “Social work is social justice… and it’s hard to visualize all of the interactions we have as people without a restorative practices foundation. To do the work is critical. ”

Building Capacity for Restorative Practices in Asheville & Buncombe Co. 


The restorative practices hosted by United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County can be invaluable in the classroom, between co-workers, and in our daily relationship building. The core of this relationship-based training is to co-create a culture that values everyone equally and builds and repairs individual relationships and the greater community. The idea can seem lofty, but the practices are focused on sustainability and are scalable to almost every relationship in your community. 

There are two sessions of two-day Restorative Practices training. The first session is required to move onto the second, as the base level of understanding is taught in the first training. While the first session has many opportunities for small group discussion,  the second focuses on situation-based restorative practices. Here you will take an even deeper dive into scaling Restorative Practices and making them a part of your everyday life.


Don't Stop There...

If You are interested in signing up for a Restorative Practices Training, click HERE

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