We are thrilled to share our journey through 2023 at Wandsworth Mediation Service (WMS), highlighted by receiving the King’s Award for Voluntary Service in November. It’s a significant milestone for us, recognising the hard work and dedication of our team.
Over the past year, we have processed 222 cases, observing a shift in the nature of enquiries. While commercial mediation requests doubled, neighbour enquiries had a 50% decline. We also saw more separated couples reaching out about child contact mediation – over a 20% increase.
Mediation success: 95% settlement rate and repeat business
In the realm of mediation success, WMS achieved a 95% resolution rate across all mediation panels, with our free community mediations boasting a 100% success rate. Our community mediators helped local people resolve co-parenting, neighbour and intergenerational family issues, and restoring relations between parents and schools. Our commercial and workplace mediations were highly successful too, with an average settlement rate of 92%.
A key insight from last year is that almost 10% of our conflict resolution referrals came from past clients, and 40% through word of mouth or local organisations. We think this is a true indication of trust in our service. Digital engagement has also played a critical role in our outreach, with almost half of our clients discovering WMS through online platforms.
Training and service impact
Training has been a key part of our mission. In 2023, we provided life-changing communication skills to 87 people across four different training projects. This included workshops for women in Roehampton, our ‘Reflect’ communication skills course for secondary school pupils on the verge of exclusion, and conflict resolution training for managers and service providers at Richmond and Wandsworth Council.
Our 58 volunteers have been the backbone of our service, directly assisting over 560 people, and positively impacting around 2600 beneficiaries. Perhaps the best way to describe our impact is to let our clients speak, so here is some feedback from last year:
– I feared my daughter and I would be estranged forever and that was so hard to bear. Our relationship has gradually improved since the conflict coaching session… It’s perhaps the best gift that anyone could ever give me. (Conflict coaching client)
– We were in a very sticky place. I have settled for something I would have not gone anywhere near before the mediation. The mediator’s best skill was opening my mind to the option of drawing a line under this… Specifically by not trying to convince me too much, rather place options on the table allowing me to see more clearly the ramifications of whichever path I chose. I feel far more comfortable with the outcome as I feel I made that decision myself rather than be coerced in any way and then suffer from ‘buyer’s remorse’ after. (Commercial mediation client)
– I am so grateful for this opportunity and will use these skills for life. (‘Empowering women’ workshop participant)
Plans for 2024
As we gear up for our 20th anniversary in March, our focus is firmly on expanding our impact. We are working with the Cranfield Trust on a detailed review and development of an enhanced business plan with clear growth objectives. We’ve reached out to 8 funders to support various projects, and are excited to announce that we’ve secured funding to extend our free school training in Wandsworth. So in 2024, we’re all set to train more peer mediators in primary schools and empower even more secondary students on the brink of exclusion with communication skills.
Thank you for being a part of our journey. Here’s to an even more impactful 2024!