Local mediator ready to step in to resolve COVID conflicts

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An experienced local mediator will volunteer with a new mediation service that has been launched across Scotland to support individuals or organisations to resolve conflicts that have arisen as a result of the social distancing and self-isolation requirements under lockdown.

Patrick Scott, from Whiting Bay, will work with Scottish Mediation which has launched the service with the support of Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund.

The nature of the conflict can be wide ranging – it can be a personal relationship that is under duress as a result of self-isolation or a dispute with an employer about returning to work during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Anyone is eligible for the service if: They live in Scotland, the conflict is connected to social distancing or self-isolation, the conflict is not part of a pre-existing dispute e.g. divorce proceedings or formal contact arrangements, and all of the people in the conflict agree to participate in mediation.

Provided by a group of professional volunteer mediators, the service is free to individuals and organisations with up to five employees. Organisations with more than five employees will be charged £300 for up to one day’s mediation. The service can be accessed through the Scottish Mediation website or by emailing admin@scottishmediation.org.uk.

Scottish Mediation was established to raise the profile of mediation in Scotland, act as a professional body for mediators in Scotland, maintain the Scottish Mediation Register of mediators and provide access to quality assured mediation services. The organisation seeks to promote a wider understanding of the appropriate use of mediation in conflict management and prevention, support and promote education, training and research in skills and best practice, create and encourage links between mediators and Scottish public, private, voluntary and community organisations and promote and organise standards of professional conduct and training.

Speaking about the new service, the director of Scottish Mediation, Graham Boyack said: ‘This is a challenging time for everyone and the isolation and stress of living in close quarters can cause, or increase, conflict for families, friends, and roommates, and can create challenges for work teams, charities and businesses, and more.

‘As with any disagreement or dispute if we aren’t able to have a conversation about it and if it remains unresolved the frustration that can create ongoing problems for those involved that can end up being greater than the original reason why there was a disagreement. That can often have impacts on mental health and wellbeing so it is good if people are able to speak about what’s happening.

‘We’re delighted to be able to offer this service at a time when people may really need some additional support, and our message to people and organisations is that we’re here to help – use us.”

Patrick added: ‘Mediators are able to help create the space for that conversation in a way which allows the parties to use creative ways of resolving disagreements and in some instances to repair relationships too.

‘In terms of what might be a suitable dispute for mediation we will be able to speak to you about your dispute and advise on each instance. As a general guide, the sorts of disputes include those around family matters including care of older relatives, flatmates/housemates, landlord/tenant, cooperative or social housing, workplace concerns related to working from home or shared workspaces and those involving neighbours.

‘It is possible that some issues may have existed before and were being managed successfully but the additional pressures have pushed them into conflict.’