Mediation Plus - the community mediation service covering Eastbourne and Wealden - has seen an increase in referrals to their family mediation service following cuts to legal aid funding to a wide variety of civil legal actions that came into effect in April.
Although pleased that mediation is becoming more widely recognised as an
effective way to resolve conflict, the Hailsham based service - which offers
mediation for neighbour, family, intergenerational and workplace disputes - is
concerned that government agencies are seeing mediation as a cheap alternative
to legal action and have not informed the public how the process really
Mediation Plus Service Manager Clive Gross commented "Mediation is about
helping people to find their own solutions and is a voluntary process, while
going to court is adversarial with an imposed solution at the end. Our service
is not about taking sides or deciding who may be right or wrong. From the
enquiries we are receiving, many people clearly do not understand this. They are
looking for something to be enforced and are often not in the right state of
mind to enter into mediation."
To help people better understand how family mediation works, the service has
recently trained a group of its existing volunteer mediators to be able to talk
people through the process and allow them to assess whether mediation is right
for them. Supported with funding from the Affinity Sutton Community Fund, eight
volunteers have just completed an OCN accredited family mediation course and are
available to have an initial informal and confidential discussion with anyone
wanting to explore the idea.
Clive Gross added "Helping people to really understand the power of mediation
in different circumstances is a very important part of what we do, so we hope
that giving our volunteers this extra knowledge will help more local people
understand and access our service. While family mediation is not free, as a
charitable organisation we are able to keep costs much lower that for-profit
mediation organisations, and helps to support our community mediation work
across Eastbourne and Wealden."
To find out more, visit the Mediation Plus website or call
us on 01323 442781.