Mediation: Two sides of a coin

By Diane Marr, Network Development Manager


On Tuesday 28th November, Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) and Scottish Mediation hosted a free seminar – ‘Mediation: Two sides of a coin’. The seminar focused on the sharing of good practice from homelessness mediation and shone a light on the great work being done across Scotland to reduce and prevent homelessness using mediation and the skills of mediation.

Part of the day included our delegates partaking in a facilitated table discussion around three key questions. A summary of key points were noted as follows:

Q1 – What are the challenges services face in making mediation available and accessible across Scotland? (Tables 1 & 2)

Table 1 Feedback

  • Funding given current financial climate
  • Attitude towards and acceptance of mediation from the general public (but changing…slowly)
  • Mediation on a voluntary basis (consider Republic of Ireland ‘Mediation Act 2017’ – legislative shift the way to go? But potential disadvantages to mediation not being voluntary)
  • Lack of framework/’joined up’ practice – lots of good individual work but lack of sharing good practice/knowledge
  • Scope for making knowledge about referral routes better known/understood (e.g. GPs, CAMHS)
  • Mediation is not one “thing” – many different situations and circumstances involved
  • Enough properly trained mediators?

Table 2 Feedback

  • Funding – geographical challenges (not just issues in big urban areas/communities)
  • Expertise in mediation – more mediators required
  • Lack of understanding on part of different agencies (in terms of service user needs and services available)
  • Lack of opportunities to share experience and outcomes
  • Challenge in how diverse approaches/services are across the country – a timeline map of who is doing what and when across Scotland would be helpful

Q2 – How can we learn from, share our skills and grow as experienced and new practitioners? (Tables 3 & 4)

Table 3 Feedback

  • Training better if done by committed people that understand information (dedicated professionals, mediators, etc.)
  • Mediators being around others in the workplace is a good way of spreading the knowledge particularly council mediators
  • Teams of innovation – different skills mixed with mediators can come up with innovative ideas
  • Case reflection groups (to discuss work) – mediators or mixed groups, mixed abilities, look at things from different angles
  • Learning by doing – experienced and less experienced working together
  • Practitioners forums, in house and with mediators from other places
  • Dropping defensiveness between different places risking sharing ideas – have an eye on the greater good and be less protective over sharing ideas
  • Raising awareness in a bigger arena with a strategic approach (link to restorative approach, link to parents, etc.)
  • Sustainability and greater awareness/use of structural models
  • Optimise where mediation can work in different councils/organisations

Table 4 Feedback

  • Opportunities to share and learn by having more events like this
  • Joint working/shadowing
  • Mediators to be clear about what they can do rather than what they can’t – profile mediation in a positive light
  • Share our skills with children to normalise the subject and encourage peer mediation
  • Share by using forums and structures which already exist – go to organisations rather than expecting them to come to us
  • Need “buy in” from the top to make mediation more familiar and accessible – raise a business case for sharing/using mediation by reviewing case studies – cost/benefit analysis. Use economic arguments – needs to be evidence based (e.g. £23k for each case)

Q3 – What did you think about what you’ve heard today/what are your hopes for the future of mediation in Scotland? (Tables 5, 6 & 7)

Table 5 Feedback

What did you think about what you’ve heard today?

  • That there is a lot of good work going on within the mediation world
  • That there are varied mediation approaches being rolled out with different local authorities.
  • Different types of mediation are required in different situations and settings, early intervention prevention vs crisis intervention.
  • Mediation can be beneficial to everyone no matter what their situation, mediation services should be available no matter what your personal circumstances are, not only for targeted groups.
  • Frustration over geographical difficulties – engaging different services across Scotland

Hopes for the future of mediation in Scotland:

  • There should be more work done in mediation using early intervention approaches.
  • More work has to be done to raise awareness of mediation and the outcomes that can be achieved. We also need to look at the broader outcomes i.e. accommodation, education skills development, health and well being
  • Training should be more widely available within different professions.
  • More conflict resolution training should be given to children and young people.

Table 6 Feedback

What did you think about what you’ve heard today?

  • It is a great idea and there would be a definite benefit in current roles but how accessible is it in Edinburgh?
  • Impressed by the immediate response in Glasgow. One person who works in a Women’s Homeless Hostel knew of three youngsters who would really benefit from mediation but neither she nor another lady who worked in Outreach had heard of mediation even though they work in partnership with other agencies.
  • They thought that it would be very useful to have mediation between guests at hostels which might greatly improve that environment.

Hopes for the future of mediation in Scotland:

  • That it is more accessible and more widely promoted.
  • That related professionals are given training both as mediators and also to enable them to “sell” mediation.
  • That early intervention is available and that mediation awareness is promoted in schools and directly to families so that they can self-refer before other agencies are involved.

Table 7 Feedback

What did you think about what you’ve heard today?

  • Positive to hear what was going on in other areas
  • How to identify/value “soft” outcomes
  • It would be helpful to have an “info bank” on who’s doing what to support people locally and get ideas
  • Importance of sharing skills and making mediation more accessible

Hopes for the future of mediation in Scotland:

  • Raising awareness in a bigger arena with a strategic approach (link to restorative approach, link to parents, etc.)
  • Sustainability and greater awareness/use of structural models
  • Optimise where mediation can work in different councils/organisations

We’d welcome you to join and keep the conversation flowing on our Community Discussion forum

Diane Marr, Network Development Manager

Diane leads on the development, delivery and management of the SCCR and is committed to developing collaborative and supportive relationships to ensure it brings about positive change for families and young people across Scotland. An experienced and qualified mediator, she is also a mediation trainer and assessor.

Contact us

0131 475 2493
Norton Park 57 Albion Road EH7 5QY Edinburgh