A DARLINGTON scheme that tackles conflict and anti-social behaviour is seeking volunteers in the area.

Launched in November, the work of the Neighbourhood Resolution Scheme is almost entirely carried out by specially trained community volunteers, with cases dealt with using the innovative restorative justice approach.

Volunteers would train to become a community restorative facilitator and would work to support victims, mentoring offenders and/or mediating conflict situations.

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Free ‘restorative mediation’ training is being offered to new volunteers who join the scheme this autumn.

Restorative facilitators visit and carefully prepare each party, whether it is a victim and an offender, or a pair of warring neighbours – before giving them the opportunity to meet in a safe environment to agree a way forward.

Victims are given the right to confront their offender, to explain the impact of their actions and suggest how amends might be made in the presence of a facilitator.

Volunteer Stephen Twist has viewed how the process looks to open offenders’ eyes to the impact of their behaviour and often leads to a genuine commitment to change their ways.

He said: “Letting go of a damaging conflict can be really empowering for the parties, freeing them to get on with their lives.

“The process is fascinating and rarely fails.”

Eight months since the scheme’s launch, 165 residents have used the service to resolve a conflict or crime matter, with 60 per cent of cases resulting in a successful resolution - rising to almost 100 per cent where clients have met face-to-face.

Council leader Bill Dixon has been keen to emphasise the benefits to the wider community of the scheme.

He said: “This is a brilliant example of how a community can work together to solve its problems.

“I urge people to get involved and get more information – there is benefit on both sides - both to the volunteer in the form of new skills and experience and to the people and the community they will be helping.”

There will be an opportunity to meet existing volunteers on Thursday (July 24), from 7pm to 8pm, in the Dolphin Centre.

Call 01325 346826 or email nradmin@darlington.gov.uk for a free information pack.