The RESTORE process helps fractured communities recognise where they are now, then begin to rebuild and begin to plan for an exciting future.
During the pandemic, many of us had vastly differing experiences. For some of us the pandemic was deeply traumatic, we lived (or still live) in increased trauma and stress. For others the pandemic gave us a chance to re-evaluate, slow down and even improve our lives. Some of us had both experiences. Many of us struggled to come to meeting for worship, others of us were able to attend more regularly.
This has resulted in meetings struggling to feel cohesive. Little issues can baloon into significant problems. As Local Development Workers we started looking for a process that we could use to support meetings to reconnect acknowledge what has happened and then plan for an exciting future. We found RESTORE and it has been brilliant for helping meetings to come together and plan for the future.
What is RESTORE?
RESTORE is a process that was devised originally to support pupils going back to school after the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. It is an acronym (as so many of these things are):
Recognise - Recognition of what’s happened and that our experiences during lockdown have all been different, life-changing for many and significant for us all. How do we encourage everyone to share their story of the pandemic so far?
Empathise - Empathy for the mix of emotions that we have in response to events at home, in our Quaker communities and in the wider world. How can we respond with empathy and compassion to ourselves and to others?
Safety - How do we build a sense of safety, both physical and emotional, so that all Friends are able to worship and all are able to feel part of our community? How do we help those who may have felt unsafe whilst they’ve been away from meeting, feel safe again?
Trauma - Reflecting on the trauma of the pandemic, how does our Quaker community process this? How do we support people who have experienced very particular traumas during lockdown or who are facing an even more uncertain future?
Opportunity - We have an opportunity to change what needs to be changed, to reflect on what matters to us and if we’d like to do anything differently. How do we learn from this experience, knowing we can question even seemingly fixed aspects of Quaker worship, community and faith in action?
Relationships - We have an opportunity to change what needs to be changed, to reflect on what matters to us and if we’d like to do anything differently. How do we learn from this experience, knowing we can question even seemingly fixed aspects of Quaker worship, community and faith in action?
Engagement - Engagement in our own spiritual health and living out our Quakerism in the wider world with the issues that affect us: How do we foster a community that engages with the challenges faced by Britain Yearly Meeting as it looks at becoming an anti-racist, diverse community facing a world in a climate emergency.
How does the RESTORE process work?
RESTORE is a workshop that can be adapted to any size meeting, and most time constraints. We have had success using it in a meeting of about an hour and a half, or have had it as a theme of an entire weekend residential. This work is normally done within a meeting by your Local Development Worker and local Friends working together. It can be done with local meetings for worship groups up to area meetings and beyond.
Zoe can come into your meeting or do work online and remotely - or indeed work in a blended way with both online and in person Friends.
It can be tempting to rush through (or avoid) the REST part of the work and jump into ORE. This is not something we can do, as a certain amount of time must be given to recognising where we have come from.
I would love my meeting/worship group to do this work - what should I do now?
First, check that Friends in your group are interested too and get some idea of times, dates and who would be willing to help. Then please get in touch with Zoe to ask her about her availability.
She will contact you for a chat and together you can work out the details.
You can email Zoe at zoep [at] quaker.org.uk.
You can call Zoe's work mobile at 07529225282. She often works mornings, but it is normally best to email her to arrange a time to talk, as her hours are quite erratic.
Zoe also has drop in sessions once a month, please check the newsletter - or email her - to find out the times and dates and get the Zoom details.