Sycamore Tree is a victim awareness programme that teaches the principles of restorative justice. It is taught in prisons in groups of up to 20 learners by Prison Fellowship volunteers. Prisoners on the programme explore the effects of crime on victims, offenders, and the community, and discuss what it would mean to take responsibility for their personal actions.
This video explains how Sycamore Tree can help reduce reoffending:
For most offenders on Sycamore Tree the most powerful element of the programme is when a victim of crime comes in to talk through how crime has impacted their lives. Offenders have an opportunity in the final session to express their remorse – some write letters, poems or create works of art or craft. Members of the community are invited to support and bear witness to these symbolic acts of restitution.
Sycamore Tree is currently running in 40 prisons across England and Wales. Find your nearest Sycamore Tree course.
Why do we do it?
Because we believe that restorative justice is important in meeting the needs of the victims, offenders and community.
How do I get involved?
Sycamore Tree is run in prison by a volunteering team that includes one tutor and several small group facilitators. All our tutors have a teaching qualification, but facilitators do not need to have a teaching background.
To be a Sycamore Tree tutor or group facilitator you will need to fill out an application form and get two references. When you have done that one of our regional staff will be in touch to help you get involved.
If you want to visit a Sycamore Tree final session to find out what the course is like please contact the Prison Fellowship Support Office.
You can also donate to the Sycamore Tree programme.
Does it work?
We are currently undertaking a study to show that the Sycamore Tree course helps reduce re-offending. We have previously commissioned Sheffield Hallam University’s Research Centre for Community Justice to carry out an evaluation of more than 2,000 prisoners who had taken part in Sycamore Tree to provide evidence of the quality of the programme. Read more…