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Annie’s story – the repairing power of mediation

As a result of working with our trained mediator, Annie managed to repair the relationship with her parents and avoid becoming homeless.

Mediation is designed to provide a positive way of resolving conflict, ideally with everyone involved participating in the process, and discussing possible solutions and an acceptable way forward. Via funding from The Big Lottery, The Rock Trust has been able to provide this important service to the vulnerable young people that we work with.

Understanding the powerful impact that mediation can have on a young person’s life and their relationships within their family is always best coming straight from a young person who has experienced it first hand. This is the story of a 20 year old woman – Annie – who was extremely anxious, very shy and at risk of becoming homeless.

When Annie was referred to The Rock Trust she was still staying in the family home but was at risk of becoming homeless due to conflict and breakdown in communication with her parents. Annie was offered a range of support specific to her need – mediation being one of them. Once she was allocated, and had met with, her key worker, she was then introduced to the mediator.

This initial mediation meeting can difficult for young people, and mediators always strives to make this as easy as possible – by keeping it brief and explaining clearly to the young people that this is a non-judgemental and confidential opportunity to talk about their conflict and how they are feeling. Annie found it hard to open up and talk, but with lots of re-assurances she felt she would like to participate in one-to-one meetings.

The mediator worked with Annie on a regular basis, mainly focusing on the following areas:

  • Reflecting on personal experience – when had she been in a conflict situation before?
  • Identifying how she managed her conflicts in the past and exploring new types of conflict management styles
  • Looking at ways that she felt comfortable with and felt able to put it into practice in her own life
  • Discussed her communication skills
  • Developed her self-expression and confidence

Throughout these meetings, Annie’s skills and confidence grew and her personal sense of progress was evident from her evaluation of the sessions. She identified initially that she was “Taking steps towards progress” then latterly this progressed to becoming “noticed benefits of progress” and “significant progress made”.

These positive effects boosted her confidence and gave her the skills and encouragement to proceed to the next and final stage of mediation – preparing for a face to face mediation meeting with her parents, held at The Rock Trust.

The face to face session between two parties is one of the later stages of the overall mediation process – and can be the most intimidating part. It takes a lot of courage to embrace this stage and on this occasion Annie and her parents took this opportunity.

After a very successful ‘face to face’ mediation session between Annie and her parents, she reflected on how it helped her personally: I am able to communicate better with my parents and, because there is conflict between us, I feel more comfortable talking to them with a mediator”.

Annie’s parents also felt that taking part in the mediation process as a positive experience.

Annie’s Mum felt it that mediation helped her realise that communication was key. She said “I will try to communicate with my daughter more, listen to her and take on board her views”.

Annie’s Dad had a similar experience and valued the chance to talk to his daughter. He said “A good opportunity to speak in a venue she was comfortable with. The mediator allowed for us all to have an open discussion”.    

In their evaluation, they said mediation had helped them in the following ways:-

Annie:

  • Confidence/Self Esteem
  • Communication/Listening /Talking
  • Positive Relationships
  • Focus on the Future

Her Parents:

  • Share Experience/Views
  • Communication/Listening/Talking
  • Positive Relationships

This is a reflection how the mediation process can provide a valuable opportunity for vulnerable young people, helping them to rebuild relationships and avoid homelessness.

Our mediator is available to all of the young people in our service – they just need to be willing to engage and talk about the impact that conflict is having on their life and their significant relationships.

Case Study: Prepared by Lesley Fairley (Mediator) September 2014