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How can mediation help in lockdown?

Portrait of young businesspeople with face masks working indoors in office

How can mediation help in lockdown?

Wandsworth Mediation Service has seen a huge increase in demand for our service since the start of COVID-19 outbreak. Enquiries about neighbour disputes have more than doubled. This will increase as we face the impact of economic difficulties, meaning that people are unable to move and will be based at home to work or after redundancy. Neighbours are finding noise and shared spaces sources of stress and conflict. Housing conditions continue to be challenging, with members of different generations living under one roof. Families face hardship and disagreements about how they live together respectfully and harmoniously. There is more divorce and separation with disputes between parents over contact with children. Mediation has never been more crucial to supporting our communities.

How can mediation help?

Mediation is available for all people experiencing conflict in their families, communities and workplaces, and we work with local agencies and organisations to reach those in need. Conflict causes stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation. Resolution improves well-being and mental health, and transforms communities into safer and more cohesive places to live, as individuals can express their needs and voice their concerns in safety.

Impact of our service:

  1. People are enabled to resolve conflict and/or have “good conversations” and/ or conflict coaching, alleviating stress and anxiety.
  2. Mental health and well-being are improved as conflict is resolved.
  3. We help improve poor self-esteem by empowering people to choose how to resolve conflict.
  4. Listening and being heard brings a more cohesive community by mutual respect and understanding, and breaks down judgement and bias.

What does Wandsworth Mediation Service offer:

  1. Free conflict coaching: this is a one-off session for one party and 2 of our trained conflict coaches (who are also mediators) on Zoom for about an hour.  It gives the chance to talk through the conflict and work out a better way to deal with it.  We try to speak to colleagues, friends and family about things that go on in our lives, but they often give their own opinions, which may not be helpful. Rarely do we have the chance to be listened to by neutral people who can explore how people already have the resources based on past experiences to handle this conflict, and it can be very helpful to take stock.
  2. Free mediation: we offer mediation sessions (on Zoom) for disputes with neighbours (e.g. noise, parking, trees) and within families (e.g. between parents and children over 16, siblings or with aged parents). Each person would speak with 2 neutral mediators separately to begin with to “tell their story”, and then if both parties are willing, we would set up a joint Zoom mediation. We offer up to 2 x 90 minute mediations.  The mediators set “ground rules” and each person has the chance to explain what is going on for them without being interrupted, before the mediators facilitate a conversation about how things could be different. The mediators do not say who is right or wrong, or tell the parties what to do. This makes the process empowering and the parties are more likely to stick with any agreed outcome as they have suggested it.
  3. Signposting and good conversations: our case managers are available to listen and signpost to partner organisations if we are not able to help.

Feedback from parties on recent cases:

  • “It has been a very insightful and helpful process to become aware of other possible avenues to resolve disputes in the future.”
  • “I found mediation very useful. It worked fantastically and I had a great result.”
  • “I am happy with the solution we came to a mediation was helpful and fairly straightforward. I would recommend mediation.”