Building bridges through mediation

Building bridges through mediation

THE ability to step in and help resolve areas of conflict or disagreement is always useful, especially when working in a residential setting.

Add troubled young people into the mix, and the need for mediation increases still further.

The team at Turning Lives Around’s Our Way Leeds (OWL) Emergency Accommodation have traditionally called on their own life experience plus other related professional training to help guide their young people in these situations, but now our day, night and senior support workers plus their manager have received formal mediation training to boost their skills.

OWL Emergency Accommodation provides safe and secure support to single young people aged 16-24 who are at immediate risk of homelessness. With nine emergency bedsits plus three longer-term self-contained flats, the service delivers personalised support to enable their young clients to gain practical life skills and establish a way forward to enable them to move successfully into their independent permanent accommodation.

Senior Support Worker Kerri Walker explained that in an environment living and working with young people, there is always a need for mediation on either an informal or formal basis, and now the team is equipped to be of greater support in these situations.

“The training was well thought out, interactive and informative and has given us the skills, understanding, demeanour and basic psychology in understanding and being able to work through the mediation process,” she said.

“While establishing independent living skills is at the forefront of our support work with our young people, helping to rebuild established relationships with parents or carers is just as vital.”

The training enables the support team members to take part in the formal mediation service offered by Archway GIPSIL, attending sessions over eight weeks in a bid to bring those young people who want it and their estranged family members closer together.

“As an emergency accommodation service, young people are referred to us at crisis point to avoid homelessness. Our team members are maybe the first people they have opened up to about their situation. Being able to refer into the mediation service and be part of it, providing ongoing support to these young people, can only help strengthen relationships and their future development,” outlined Kerri.

Building bridges with families aren’t the only scenario where mediation skills can come in handy. Fall-outs between residents or even professional disagreements between colleagues can also benefit.

“With the occasional fall-out in the house, it has reinforced our ability to informally mediate and rebuild friendships by ensuring both parties are heard and have a safe space to voice their opinions. Same with staff members; it ensures that we, as a team, recognise the importance of ensuring everyone is given the time to be heard and understood in order to continue being a closely-knit strong team in a safe and happy environment,” said Kerri.

“We would like to thank Dave from Archway GIPSIL and Nicola from GIPSIL’s The Beck Wellbeing Services for their training and expertise. We are looking forward to more great work together in the future.”