Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Mediation Charity Chair retires after over 12 years of service

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.”

Monday, 24 September 2012

NHS Survey Reveals Greater Trust in Mediation

Mediation Plus - the community mediation service for Eastbourne and Wealden - has welcomed the results of a new survey of NHS Trusts across the country has shown that mediation is gaining in both popularity and credibility within the healthcare sector.

Of the 133 Trusts which responded to the survey conducted by the TCM Group, 83% are already using mediation to resolve workplace disputes, with 87% of those reporting a significant reduction in the number of grievances.  Some 43% of Trusts reported a fall in the number of employment tribunals they had to defend, a statistic they attribute directly to the introduction of a mediation scheme.

Evidence from the survey suggests that that NHS Trusts are using mediation to secure positive outcomes within an increasingly complex and challenging range of conflicts and change processes. Trusts reported that they were using mediation to resolve disputes between colleagues, as well as managing conflict between healthcare professionals, patients and their families.

Disputes within the NHS, like so many other sectors, are damaging, destructive and a significant distraction at times of major change and transformation. With such negative impacts, it seems that many Trusts feel that enough is enough and are turning to mediation as an exciting alternative which it seems is delivering significant benefits. The outcomes being reported from mediation are impressive and NHS staff are seeing that mediation can produce very creative solutions to systemic problems by engaging everyone.

Mediation Plus Service Manager Clive Gross said “The results of this survey demonstrates that using mediation can result in less time is being spent dealing with grievances and litigation, resulting in reduced costs on tribunal hearings and reduced stress on all parties involved. Finding solutions that everyone agrees to and are not imposed from above leads to increased levels of wellbeing and productivity, which are major benefits to the NHS or any organisation looking to resolve disputes in a non-confrontational way.”

Mediation Plus offers both workplace mediation to local organisations and businesses, and accredited mediation skills training to managers and other employees who have to deal with the public or handle complaints. This includes other areas of the healthcare sector including providers of care and nursing homes.

Gill Bellord, Head of employee relations at NHS Employers is particularly enthusiastic about the role of mediation. “NHS Employers support the increased use of mediation in the NHS as an effective means of resolving complaints, managing change and handling workplace disputes. There are benefits in terms of outcomes, maintaining on-going relationships and value for money.”

For more information about the mediation services and training available locally, call Mediation Plus on 01323 442781 or visit our main website.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Mediation Service Raises Planning Permission Holiday Concerns

Mediation Plus, the community mediation service for Eastbourne and Wealden, is concerned that Government plans announced last week to relax planning permission requirements for property extensions may trigger a wave of disputes among local residents.
The service – which has been providing independent and impartial community mediation since 2006 – deals with an average of 120 cases each year. Among the most common causes of disputes between home owners are parking, boundaries and extensions such as conservatories and garages. The plans announced last week would allow extensions of up to 6 meters – double the current limit – to be built without local planning consent.
Service Manager Clive Gross said “While the current planning process may seem cumbersome for small developments like conservatories and garages, it does at least provide a mechanism for genuine concerns about the impact of these works to be properly considered. Any extension larger than the current three meter rule may have significant implications for the occupiers of the adjoining properties in terms of outlook and privacy. Doubling the threshold seems to suggest that planners should only get involved when the damage is potentially already done.”
Statistics from the Local Government Association show that the proportion of planning applications approved by town halls has risen over the past decade, reaching 87% last year. Home owners who may previously have had planning permission refused for legitimate reasons may now decide to exploit the proposed planning permission ‘holiday’ to go ahead with these schemes.
Mr Gross continued “Mediation is a very effective way of resolving disputes, especially if people come to us early before issues escalate. Unfortunately, once a building is up it is usually too late and arguments can even turn violent. We hope the very short public consultation process being scheduled for these proposals will allow the Government to reflect fully on their implications.”

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Mediation Plus backs new report on ‘First Aid’ approach to anti-social behaviour

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.”

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sussex Police make £400 donation to Mediation Plus

East Sussex Division Superintendant, Neil Honnor presented a cheque for £400 to Wealden and Eastbourne's community mediation service Mediation Plus. The Hailsham based charity, which has been assisting neighbours and families in dispute since 2006, relies on donations and grant funding to maintain their service to local communities.

Mediation Plus Service Manager Clive Gross said "We are very grateful for the donation and continued support from our local Police service. At a time of cuts in public funding, contributions like this are even more valuable in helping the service to survive and will go towards us keeping our volunteer mediators active in the area."

Superintendant Neil Honnor said, “Sussex Police fully support schemes like Mediation Plus and this donation will hopefully go in some small part in helping them to continue the excellent work across Wealden and Eastbourne”.

The donation comes from the Police Property Act Fund, made up of money received by the police from property confiscated by order of court and then sold if an owner cannot be identified.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Double Celebration at Mediation Plus

Last Saturday marked a double celebration at Mediation Plus, as our latest intake of volunteer mediators and five new Trustees joined the service. Following an appeal through the media, a range of local people put themselves forward as potential Trustees and were interviewed by Mediation Plus Chair, John Gallop.
John commented “We were delighted with the interest shown in our service and the range of backgrounds and experience of the people coming forward. With a strong group of Trustees and a growing pool of trained mediators, we are now in a great position to secure the future of Mediation Plus and engage even more widely in the communities we serve.”

Among those joining as Trustees are local Parish Councillor Barbara Molog, former Sussex Police hostage negotiator and mediator Ross Hollister, former head teacher and Royal Marine David Hines, Australian born psychologist and counsellor Deborah Marlin, and specialist management consultant Jonathan Christian.

Presenting certificates to the new volunteer mediators, John added “The response to our new accredited mediation training courses has been great, but covering such a big geographical area as Wealden, Eastbourne and Lewes means we need to maintain a large group of volunteers, so we will be running our next course in September, which we hope will give us over 50 mediators covering the area.”

Anyone interested in training to become a mediator should contact Training Coordinator Joan Eades at Mediation Plus on 01323 442781 or email for an application pack. There will also be an Open Morning in September where you can find out more about the course and meet some of the current team of mediators. More details about Mediation Plus and our range of services is available on our website

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mediation Plus launches Get to Go Workshops

Following successful bids to Awards for All and the East Sussex County Council Seedcorn Fund, Mediation Plus are delighted to announce our new Get to Go workshop pilot programme for young people aged 16-25 in the Wealden, Lewes and Eastbourne district areas.
The one-day workshops are designed to help improve the participants confidence and communication skills as they look to access further or higher education, training, employment or even self-employment.

To keep the process simple, applications for places on the workshops can be made via the on-line booking form, accessed through the programme web page. Applications should be made directly by the participant and we will confirm the final date and venue of the workshop in their area with them, subject to the demand from in each area.
You can also follow and get the latest news on workshop dates and venues by joining the programmes Facebook and Twitter pages.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mediation Plus Bookshop goes live

We have just added an on-line bookshop facility to our blog and website! We have added a selection of titles for anyone interested in finding out more about how different styles of mediation work or want to do some background reading before coming on one of our accredited mediation training courses. By purchasing through our bookshop we get paid a percentage of every sale, so you are helping to support us too!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New Mediators graduate at Mediation Plus

New Mediators receive their certificates
The first new group of mediators to graduate since Mediation Plus – the community mediation service covering Eastbourne, Wealden and Lewes – became an Accredited Training Provider with Open College Network, were presented with their certificates this week. The new mediators all completed four days of intensive training and will now partner members of the organisations experienced mediation team as they take on new cases.

Joan Eades, Training Development Manager at Mediation Plus said “We have been delighted with the very high caliber of people looking to train as mediators with us, all of whom bring a wide variety of professional and personal experience to the service. This supports us in being able to deal with the complex and often entrenched issues that are referred to us and allows us to offer a broader range of mediation services across our area.”

The Open College Network is a not-for-profit registered charity, which comprises nine regional networks across England. With over 25 years experience in the education sector, they lead the market in the recognition of achievement through credit-based units and qualifications, delivered to learners from 14 years upwards.

The next accredited course in Developing Mediation Theory and Practice Skills, will run at the Mediation Plus offices in Hailsham in March. The course will cover step-by-step mediation process, how to use different questioning styles, encouraging participation in mediation, confidentiality and impartiality, and ethical and professional standards. The course is open to both those looking to volunteer for the service or anyone interested in acquiring mediation skills in their personal or professional lives.

Anyone interested in training to become a mediator should contact Joan Eades at Mediation Plus on 01323 442781 or email for an application pack. There will also be an Open Morning on Saturday 11th February from 10am to 12noon where you can find out more about the course and meet some of the current team of mediators.