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Mediation - when can it be used?

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The very passion and commitment that draws people to charities means that points of view can be held very deeply and disputes can very quickly escalate. Mediation can be used at any stage of a dispute from the early warning signs up to the point where positions are entrenched, “everything has been tried” and no solution can be envisaged. 

Mediation is one of the most successful ways of resolving a dispute or disagreement. It is entirely voluntary and is usually much quicker and more effective than traditional dispute resolution methods such as grievance and complaints procedures. 

Mediation involves a skilled, independent mediator who supports both parties in finding a solution to the issues they are facing. The mediator helps people work out and express what their issues are and then explore what options might be available for moving forward. 

The mediator does not take sides or make judgements but will make sure that everyone gets a chance to tell their version of events, hear the other side, work through the issues that are important to them and come to an agreement on how to move forward. 

Mediation is very flexible and can be used in most situations including - 

  • Disagreements within boards or between Chairs and boards that cannot be resolved through normal discussion
  • Disputes between staff and/or volunteers and boards
  • Disputes between staff/volunteers and managers
  • Personality clashes
  • Complaints of harassment or bullying
  • Customer/user complaints
  • Issues arising from mergers
  • Issues arising from partnership working and collaboration 

All of these scenarios can be very destructive and stressful, not to mention costly, and on occasion can put the very existence of a charity at risk. 

There are very few disputes where mediation is not appropriate  - for example if criminal activity is involved. If in doubt call the Scottish Mediation Helpline on 0131 556 118 for confidential advice. 

Is mediation successful?

Yes – mediation is a voluntary process and only takes place if both parties agree that they want to find a solution. Most mediations are successful in reaching agreements, and people are more likely to stick to agreements made in mediation than when something was decided more formally or imposed.  

Mediation in Charities

Scottish Mediation can arrange for a professional, accredited mediator to conduct a mediation at a low cost depending upon the size of the charity.  Charities with an income of under £50,000 p.a. may be eligible for pro-bono mediation at no cost.

For more information or to discuss a specific case contact the Scottish Mediation Helpline on 0131 556 118 and quote “Third Sector”.