After over twelve years of supporting the establishment of community mediation across Eastbourne and Wealden, Mediation Plus Chair of Trustees, John Gallop, stood down at the charity’s AGM this week (October 29th) having seen the service through a very challenging period of change.
John used his last annual report to the meeting to highlight how the organisation has survived funding cuts and a financial deficit and was now looking forward to further positive developments over the next few years. John told the meeting:
“Over the past two years my report has highlighted the adverse effects that the economic recession has had upon both our community and the charitable sector and our sources of funding remain just as hard to attract. Clearly we are not out of the woods yet and Mediation Plus is still operating under difficult circumstances but, despite these difficulties, the service has survived and is already developing new strategies to assist in ensuring that this situation continues.”
John was instrumental in helping to set up the original pilot local mediation project in Hailsham in 1999, and has been Chair of Trustees for Mediation Plus since it was formed in 2006 by the merger of Eastbourne Community and Wealden Independent Mediation Services.
Explaining how he became involved, John said “My interest in mediation grew from my work at the time in pollution control at Wealden District Council. We were dealing with many complaints and neighbour disputes which we recognised could be better resolved by getting people talking to each other. Some people find it more difficult to talk openly if the Council is involved. So with the help of a government grant and the assistance of several other bodies, including the local Police, Social Services and the CAB, we set up an independent mediation service.”
The meeting saw the election of a new Board of six Trustees to guide the service over the next year as it continues to develop new ways of delivering mediation and conflict resolution services in the area. The charity has just been successful in a bid to run its first pilot outreach Community Mediation Skills Training course, where local residents from a deprived area will be trained to help mediate disputes in their local community.
John concluded “I should like to extend my thanks and gratitude, on behalf of my fellow Trustees, to all of the volunteer mediators, without whom there would be no service. I have witnessed Mediation Plus go from strength to strength. With the arrival of a number of excellent new Trustees this year, and in the knowledge that we have such wonderful staff at the helm, I am satisfied that the service will remain in good hands.”