What is mediation and how does it work?
Mediation is a process which offers neighbours who are having a difficulty with each other an opportunity to speak to someone neutral, called a Mediation Officer, about the problem and to have the opportunity to discuss how the situation may improve. Mediators do not take sides, are non-judgemental and aim to help and support neighbours in dispute to work through a simple process which usually helps everyone reach an agreement that suits all sides. Mediation is a free service to all residents of the Scottish Borders. We work with all members of the community both tenants and home owners.
Who is involved in mediation?
Usually it is only the neighbours involved in the situation though sometimes it may be necessary to have other people there such as an interpreter to ensure that everyone can be heard and have their views expressed.
How can Mediation help?
When you are involved in conflict with a neighbour it can seem impossible to talk to or communicate with a neighbour and so the difficulties continue to be unresolved to the detriment of everyone's quality of life. The Mediator's role is to help re-establish communication and reach a resolution that suits all sides.
What actually happens?
Normally the initial step is for the mediator to visit the first neighbour, usually in their own home though we can arrange to meet elsewhere, so that they can explain the situation, how they are being affected and, looking forward to the future and suggest what can change to improve the situation. Following that discussion contact can then be made with the other neighbours and an appointment is offered to them so that the Mediator can hear their side of the situation and discuss how they feel the situation can improve. Mediation relies on everyone taking part on a voluntary basis and sometimes people decide mediation is not appropriate for them, however it is usually best to discuss what other options may help with the Mediator.
What happens after the initial meetings?
Following these meetings with neighbours there is a discussion on the way forward, usually a meeting in the same room in a neutral venue where everyone has the opportunity, in a safe and structured setting, to discuss the situation and hopefully reach a solution that suits everyone involved. Alternatively if people prefer not to come to a meeting there is a process called shuttle mediation where communication is enabled through the mediator with the aim of reaching agreement.
Where do mediation meetings take place?
Mediation meetings always take place in a neutral venue such as a village hall or community centre. The venue is always private and the meeting is strictly confidential.
Can I stay anonymous?
Usually in mediation this is not practical however it is best to discuss this with the Mediator.
Who decides the terms of the agreement with the neighbours?
The neighbours involved are in control of the terms of the agreement reached and the Mediator helps to ensure that the solution is a win/win for everyone involved.
Is there a written record of the agreement and is it legally binding?
If an agreement is reached between the neighbours then usually it can be printed out and a copy sent to all sides. Whilst not legally binding it is a record of what was agreed, between the neighbours, at a meeting on a specific date in a specific place. Many people find it helpful to refer back to what was agreed at the meeting if there are any difficulties in the future.
What benefits are there to taking part in Mediation?
Many people comment positively on the benefits of speaking to someone neutral, who is experienced in dealing with situations of conflict and who can help people explore feelings from all sides and discuss what may change to improve the situation. Usually mediation is thought to also have therapeutic benefits and can contribute positively to people's health and wellbeing.
Do I have to come on my own or can I bring a friend?
Usually a mediator will prefer the meeting to have the same numbers of people on both sides. However it is fairly common for someone to want some moral support at a meeting so this is best discussed with the Mediator before the meeting as it can usually be facilitated.