Workshop on Sensitive Apologies 27th June, Manchester

Sensitive Apologies? & Victim Clarification
‘Victims’ sometimes seek apologies. ‘Offenders’ may come to a place of remorse, within or without a context of supervision.How do we work with apologies? What makes an apology sensitive? What role has Victim Clarification?

Offenders, often separated from the damage created by their behaviour, struggle to develop empathy for those they hurt.

Survivors, seldom having the opportunity to hear from offenders, frequently wrestle with misplaced feelings of guilt and responsibility for the abuse.

This workshop will draw on Rowland Coombes’ experience as a senior therapist for the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, working with sex offenders on long-sentences. It will also draw on Paul Crosland’s experience as Head of Restorative Justice, Mediation UK & founder of

The workshop will refer to the following: the Home Office’s Best Practice Guidance for Restorative Practitioners; Beverly Engel’s ‘The Power of Apology’ (focussed on seeking apologies for childhood sexual abuse) & Phil Rich’s Victim Clarification work. There will be excerpts shown of a documentary video (made in the US) that bridges the distance between those who have sexually abused and those who have been hurt, giving each the benefit of hearing directly from the other.


Edit the ApologyPlus pages by joining CommunicatingNeeds yahoo group

If you want to be make just the smallest contribution to the editing & development of the ApologyPlus website, your best move is to join the CommunicatingNeeds yahoo group. When we have 20 members, access will be opened to the pages where you can collectively edit and add content, using the exciting potential of a wiki.


Apology without empathy first is just a ritual, says Marshall Rosenberg

“Most of the time we apologise to another person we haven’t even empathised with them first. We don’t even realise that when we apologise without even giving empathy, in order to get forgiveness to ourselves, we are adding insult to injury. The other person needs empathy before they can trust that you have sincerely mourned what you did. No apology is trusted until we feel first that the other person empathises; otherwise it is just a ritual” (Marshall Rosenberg, Six Steps to Reconciliation & Forgiveness)

Friday launched at the largest ever UK Marshall Rosenberg event

380 people were present for the launch of ApologyPlus. Banners flew from the balconies. (These banners are available for places where the TV cameras are interested in Apology issues; e.g. Ken Livingstone, Kate Moss, Prince Harry, the Home Office?).


Imagined A4 sheet for their door or to stick up somewhere where you both go

- Print & (if you want to) add the words :“I’ve been working on it”, signed......

Test Riding ApologyPlus –your opportunity to role-play on-line

Test Riding ApologyPlus –your opportunity to role-play on-line

This role play is not a rush to get to a particular place.
If you are working on it alone, take as long as you are willing to give it & please then go to the feedback & suggestions page.
(If you are working with colleagues e.g. on different computers in the office at the same time, then the co-ordinator could practice and decide how long they would like their team to spend working this through.
At the end of the agreed time period, people can be asked to go to spend 5 minutes on the ‘feedback and suggestions’ page and then meet together to discuss what did & didn’t work for you.)
This isn’t surfing, this is riding a wave.

Your ApologyPlus test-ride

1) Think of a city in the UK where you will imagine that you live.:……………………………………
(If you are a co-ordinator of a mediation service, please choose your own town!)

2) Keep your same name (& use ‘Test-ride’ as the first line of your address if asked for it)

3) In role playing on-line, imagine the party you choose to play to have the same level of familiarity with how the web works as you have.

4) Choose whether you want to be Person A, B or C:

Person A (Married, with children)
You have made a complaint first to your neighbour, Person B. Then you have made the complaint more fully to your Housing Association Landlord about Person B. Your complaint in full is that Person B has been making verbal threats against your children, they are noisy and they are intimidating.
(Please choose a name for Person B to make this situation more real to you:……………).

Person B (A single father)
You have heard Person A & Person C complain to you about the noise you and your children make. You have replied by letting Person C know that her oldest son has been “bullying and harassing” your children. (Please choose names for Person A & Person C to make this situation more real to you:…………… & ……………….)

Person C (A single mother)
You have the same complaints as Person A. You also spoke to Person B about it and were told that your oldest son has been “bullying and harassing” Person B’s children. (Please choose names for Person A & Person B to make this situation more real to you: ……………………………………….)

5) A letter has come from your Housing Association Landlord:

“Dear Tenant
We are aware of some tension between some of the neighbours. We hope this can be sorted out. We don’t know what it will take to sort it out. As a first step, we suggest that you use the confidential website and see if it has any relevance to your situation. If you are keen to work on resolving the issues between you we will be willing to find resources to pay for mediators. (More information about what mediators do is available via the website).
Good luck.
Yours sincerely,

(Housing Officer)”

P.S. If you do not have access to the internet or know anyone who can help you use it, we suggest that you phone the touch-tone ApologyPlus helpline (01**** ****) or approach one of the following. Ask them if you can spend an hour there, with some support, to go through the website
1) The local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (Tel…..)
2) The local Library (Tel…..)
3) An Internet Cafe
4) “Social Services” (if you are a client of theirs)

5) One of our housing officers, or someone more independent who we may be able to find to visit you with a portable computer.

P.P.S. You may, or may not, choose to indicate to your neighbours that you have visited
(One way of letting your neighbours know that you are taking this issue seriously and following our advice would be to drop the ApologyPlus flyer in their door or post it in a public area, with or without the words “I’ve been working on it” & with or without your name.)


Truth and Reconciliation in Glasgow?

One of the Bristol 'slavery apology' debate organisers has let me know of plans to take the debate -with a Truth & Reconcilliation panelist- to Glasgow next:

Andrew Kelly from Business West emailed too say:
I thought the debate was helpful and useful and hopefully we can move things on. I agree with you on the truth and reconciliation aspect - in fact, I amplanning another debate on this issue, this time in Glasgow for next February, and am trying to get Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela who served on theTruth and Reconciliation Commission and has a book out here later this year on her experience which covers forgiveness. I've already spoken to Ekow Eshun about participating. We hope to pursue these debates too as part of our reading project early next year which covers slavery in part. I've read the Apologist, too. Regards, Andrew


Some Logo Work in advance of 21st May launch to mediators and NVC practitioners

Ways forward with the 'slavery legacy & reparation' debate

Following on from last night’s ‘apology for slavery?’ debate I met up with Ekow Eshun today in Bristol and discussed what was missing from the debate. Last night there were different views on where the injustices (and responsibility for them) lay. From the floor, Martin Upchurch (Respect Party) said that an apology means everything and it means nothing.

Toyin Agbetu pleaded for dialogue: “I want to conduct a conversation in which we can exchange views. An apology is to do with making it possible for me and you to live in the same space on equal terms. My children and your children too. We need to recreate a Britain which includes a wider perspective.”
In support of this another speaker said “An apology might well be political and evasive. But what it will do is tell all of us there is something for us to discuss & that is deeply important. We must use every instrument to open apologies wherever we are”. Reparation was discussed too, and education was seen as a key part of this reparation to build a world of greater equity/equality and less tokenism. Ekow Eshun said that “It is difficult & exhausting to explain that Britain, for all its strengths, is a racist country. That racism comes out of the self-confidence built up over centuries. The word sorry isn’t a very big word, but it is a very meaningful word.”
Today I gave Ekow a copy of “The Apologist”; he knows Jay Rayner and will talk further to him about his novel. Ekow agreed with me that missing from last night’s panel was the voice of a mediator; someone whose daily work is in the facilitating of difficult conversations and witnessing people repairing the harm between them, with or without an apology. In Ekow’s words, the experience of ‘Truth & Reconciliation’ would have greatly enhanced this discussion. Ekow and I touched on the dynamics of finding mediators who would engage the stakeholders. Neutrality and impartiality are two of the mediator’s values which play a crucial role in engaging stakeholders in discussions. Who are the stakeholders with power to do something? If they can be identified, how do we gain their confidence to discuss & address the harms for which acknowledgement (and redress?) is sought? [If it is about Englands Port Cities, this link has much history]
As the discussions develop on ‘what fairness looks like’ in a world with a legacy of slavery and racism, I will be working to bring mediation values, skills and opportunities to those who have frustration? regrets? and can be engaged in communication. In debates, more mediator panelists please.


Debate: Should we apologise for the past?

The Bristol Festival of Ideas is holding the following debate:
10 MAY: 7pm Debate: Should we apologise for the past?
(Venue: British Empire and Commonwealth Museum)

The decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to apologise for its role in the slave trade, and Tony Blair’s apology to the Irish people, have opened up again the question of whether we should apologise for the past. Do such apologies work? Are they meaningful? Do they go far enough? Should Bristol apologise for its role in the slave trade? As the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade approaches, leading historians, writers, broadcasters and artistic leaders debate this critical moral, ethical and political issue.

Chaired by Christopher Hitchens,author most recently of a book on the ethics of bombing Germancities in the second world war, Dead Cities,
Ekow Eshun, author of Black Gold of the Sun, which charted his search for his roots in Africa
Isabel Hilton, director of the Royal African Society
Richard Dowden,
Professor Deepak Lal,
Professor Stephen Howe,
Dr Mike Phillips,
Toyin Agbetu (Ligali Organisation)
& Professor Hugh Thomas.
(For an imagined apology click here; and for Jay Rayner's reflections on his protagonist's imaginary apology click here) Please comment below.


“The Apologist” author rings to set the record straight

Jay Rayner, author of "The Apologist" and Observer journalist etc, phoned me today, concerned at the quote about the apology for slavery being taken out of context.
His novel is satirical and particularly cynical of the usage by politicians of apology. Apology, Jay believes, usually has more integrity when it is interpersonal and not mixed with power-politics and public press statements. Jay emailed: "I believe is that it makes far more sense that we address inequalities present in society now in a meaningful way and in practical terms, rather than mouthing platitudes that cost nothing and make no difference." Please click on comments (below) to add your thoughts, observations, feelings, needs, requests etc.


How do I find Nonviolent Communication training in the UK?

Pay It Forward

The Pay It Forward Foundation was established in September 2000 by author Catherine Ryan Hyde and others to educate and inspire students to realize that they can change the world, and provide them with opportunities to do so. By bringing the author's vision and related materials into classrooms internationally, students and their teachers are encouraged to formulate their own ideas of how they can pay it forward.
The teacher and protagonist in the book “Pay It Forward,” starts a movement with this voluntary, extra-credit assignment: THINK OF AN IDEA FOR WORLD CHANGE, AND PUT IT INTO ACTION. Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of “Pay It Forward,” thinks of quite an idea. He describes it to his mother and teacher this way: "You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out...See how big it gets?"

NVC podcast discussions

Vaestro is a new interactive audio tool on the internet which offers new opportunities for sharing Nonviolent Communication (and other society-changing initiatives). Below is the link to the NVC part of this free audio interactive POD cast program (launched April 2006) which contains much audio material and can be used to start topic discussions or present NVC using voice rather than email.You can find conversations on NVC including current research projects at: -an opportunity to play, learn, and contribute.


Be part of Channel Four's forthcoming “Making Amends” programme?


What mistakes have you made in your life?

Do you want to put the past behind you, move on and have fun in the process?

This could be your chance to wipe the slate clean and come out the other side a better person. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

It doesn’t matter what you did or when you did it, it’s time to show the world you are not a bad person.

Channel Four are making a new non-judgmental programme called “Making Amends”. If you are interested in taking part or just want some more details you can call or email us in confidence on 0207 861 8465 or email


ApologyPlus is on-line is now up and running as a basic website. It is imagined that the ApologyPlus website will be promoted by many as a place for people to take their frustrations, regrets, and interpersonal issues. From the ApologyPlus website, the user has an option to learn more about apology, including an extract from the "Power of Apology". After reflecting on the value of apology to the website user, the user is encouraged to access all the resources of which is being built both as an interactive-empathy site, facilitating Nonviolent Communication and as a referral route for mediation services. is only one of many issue and/or context based websites that may bring someone to an interest in NVC-mediation. (Please build the other websites to route people to .) Meanwhile please take a look at what conflict-resolution potential may be built on the web at
Please use the 'feedback and suggestions' option on the left of the pages.

Imagined apology for slavery

March 2007 will be the 200th anniversary of the official (UK) abolition of the slave trade. In advance of the anniversary, copied below is an imagined apology for slavery. (This comes from the novel, The Apologist by Jay Rayner, p257):
"and the wounds, though they shall never be bound up, are now recognized. The pain and hurt that has passed from generation, from father to son, from mother to daughter, is our pain too for we, the perpetrators, accept our guilt. The tongue that we now share, that was forced upon the peoples of Africa by our ill deeds, is overburdened by the language of domination but ill-equipped when it comes to the making of amends. Only one word presents itself, a tiny word compared to the magnitude of the task set before it, but we offer it now in all humility for it is all we have.
That word is sorry. We are sorry for the grievous crimes of slavery, sorry for the centuries of deprivation, sorry for the river of blood that we have caused to flow. On behalf of myself, my family, and the peoples of Britain and the USA, I ask now that you accept both the apology late though it be, and the sincerity with which it is given". Having read this quote please click here