History of WMS

Wandsworth map

Wandsworth Mediation Service (WMS) was founded by local resident Stephen Ruttle QC, in 2004 with the vision of seeing his community provided with the opportunity to be at peace with one another and themselves.

Stephen’s goal was for the charity to be self-funded and so he created the Commercial Mediation service of WMS – whereby mediations that had a financial asset in dispute were available at a small fee. This fee would support the community side of Wandsworth to enable Wandsworth residents to access mediation at the point of need.

Stephen and the WMS trustees liked the idea of local volunteer mediators providing the mediation.  They trained up a group of local residents as mediators to help their community. This model still exists here at WMS – and we now have over 50 trained, supervised, volunteer mediators.

The early years saw a large number of community mediations dealing with issues between neighbours over noise, parking spaces, shared areas etc. WMS was and still is the mediation service for noise disputes, with referrals from the Police, local housing associations and Wandsworth Council. Right from the outset, WMS has strong links with the local CAB and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to provide mediation services and historically on the back of this relationship we headed up a mediation hotline for Wandsworth residents.

Conflict: ResolvedThrough WMS’s work with the local community, the need for conflict-resolution workshops became apparent.  In 2009 WMS started running a series of these workshops for inmates in Wandsworth Prison. This work has expanded and continues, into Wandsworth secondary schools for both staff and teachers, and for selected tenants of housing associations together with housing officers.

In 2011 WMS responded to the need of families for mediation, especially separated parents who need space to talk issues through, in relation to the care of their child(ren). With the increased growth of family mediations, WMS developed its family mediation service and recruited specifically trained family mediators to deliver this service.

Towards the end of 2014, with Wandsworth social services hearing of our service, we started having a number of inter-generational cases coming through, for example, cases between mother and son or father and daughter. With this growth, a number of community mediators were trained specifically in IG mediation which sits nicely between family and community mediation. Now, almost half of our cases relate to family and child care or inter generational issues.

Over the last few years Wandsworth Mediation Service has arranged over 50 mediation cases per year throughout the 4 types of mediation that it offers.

Stephen’s vision for WMS has always been:

“I have lived in Wandsworth for over 35 years and am a true believer that local people are those best placed to transform their local community. This is one of the reasons I set up Wandsworth Mediation Service, a local charity, run by local volunteers, which supports the community to come together and resolve their differences”