Local mediation and conflict resolution service Mediation Plus has welcomed the new report from the Royal Society of Arts and NESTA published last week that has highlighted the potential for teaching local communities ‘First Aid’ skills in directly tackling anti-social behaviour in local communities.
Published on the first anniversary of the summer 2011 ‘riots’, the report looks at ways communities can be empowered to tackle these issues for themselves, as other community safety services face several years of spending reductions. The reports’ author Ben Rogers outlines the four key features that mark this ‘First Aid’ approach out:
“First, it is a skills-based approach, with the curriculum designed by professional experts and regularly revised in light of developments in expert knowledge. Second, the curriculum is simple, so that almost anyone can master it. Third, despite its simplicity, it is aimed primarily not at children but adults. Fourth, it appeals to both civic or humanitarian motives and to less selfless ones – first aid skills can be helpful in saving strangers but also a family member or friend, or even oneself. And it can enhance a CV and provide people who are relatively unqualified, or not employed, with public recognition.”
Aside from training members of the public, specific groups that could benefit from this approach could include public service including park keepers and playground supervisors, street wardens and housing estate managers, publicans and shopkeepers, residents of social housing, young people in schools, ex-offenders, and senior managers and executives in public and private sector organisations.
Mediation Plus Service Manager Clive Gross commented “This report highlights exactly the approach our service and our colleagues across Sussex are currently developing. We have already run a successful Peer Mediation training programme in local primary schools, and are now developing workshops and courses for adults. As an accredited training provider with over ten years experience of working with local communities, we are in a unique position to drive this approach forward.”
As the report highlights, finding funding to run effective programmes has proved a challenge, even though costs can be under £100 per person for a workshop. It also recommends developing skills within the community so training can be passed on by lay trainers – a technique also being developed by Mediation Plus.
Clive Gross added “We are currently awaiting the outcome of a funding bid that would allow us to run exactly the type of programme this report champions, with participants trained to be able to pass on their skills within their communities. We hope other local partners such as housing associations, local authorities and crime reduction partnerships would also be interested in funding programmes like this, as they could save significant amounts of time and money by giving communities these invaluable skills.”