Mediation And Community Support (MACS)

Mediation And Community Support (MACS)

Background

Northern Ireland Alternatives (NIA) is a community safety organisation that since its inception in 2000 has delivered all of its services based on a model of restorative practice. It addresses the problems of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour by attempting to fix the broken relationships between victim, offender and the community. NIA is accredited by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and has protocols in place with a number of statutory organisations that inform and enhance its collaborative work with the statutory sector at community level.

In 2009, NIA entered into a formal partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to deliver the MACS Project – a practical support service aimed mainly at NIHE tenants who are in dispute or who are experiencing anti-social behaviour within the North and Greater Shankill areas of Belfast, as well as Bangor.

MACS brings together the NIHE and NIA in a partnership that helps to create safer and more cohesive communities. The project is already committed to rebuilding and strengthening a positive sense of well-being, harmony and community confidence. It provides an example of a community- inspired and community- led model, which provides a non-violent alternative to conflict in communities that retain a deep legacy and culture of systemic violence.

Programme content

The MACS model provides a holistic approach to community safety incorporating intervention, prevention and education methodologies; these approaches can positively affect the lives of young people involved in crime (or at risk of becoming involved), of victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, and of people enmeshed in neighbourhood disputes.

MACS integrates the themes of community cohesion and community transformation in a powerful approach  that addresses issues of interface violence, community murals, crime and anti-social behaviour, neighbourhood disputes, racism, and the fragmented relationships between community and statutory agencies and victims of crime and anti-social behaviour.

The key strands in this Project are interconnected and can run separately or in tandem and are as follows:

Mediation:

  • Victim Offender Mediation Service
  • Neighbourhood Dispute MediationCommunity Support:
  • Intensive Youth Support Programme – for young people involved in anti-social behaviour, and/or at risk of becoming homeless because of their anti-social behaviour.
  • Victim Support Programme – to include home visitation, advocacy, needs assessments, home security improvements, mediation and possibility of restitution.
  • Detached Youth Work Programme – responding to issues of anti-social behaviour.
  • Youth Prevention Programme
  • Race Relations/Hate Crime ProgrammeIn practice, for monitoring/recording purposes, each case usually falls under the simple heading of either ‘mediation’ or of ‘community support’.  Referrals can come not just from NIHE staff or PSNI, but also from other statutory agencies, community organisations, churches, business, elected representatives, families, or indeed from the affected tenants themselves