More rowing neighbours are turning to mediation in Brighton and Hove than ever before now police have started referring disputes to a specialist team.
The Brighton and Hove Independent Mediation Service (BHIMS), which is also used by the city council and housing associations, has received 50 referrals this year, up from 29 in January to July the previous year.
Most people use the mediation service for neighbour disputes such as noise or disruption from people or pets, boundary issues and anti-social or abusive behaviour.
Mark Green BHIMS Service Manager, explains: “When a case is referred to us communication between neighbours has normally completely broken down and there is often mistrust, suspicion and in some cases hostility.
“Our job is to offer a safe, confidential and non judgemental environment so that everyone involved can talk about what went wrong and explore how things could be improved.
“Our skilled mediators support the process, encouraging compromise and helping everyone to come to a resolution which will help neighbours live peacefully together.”
An independent charity since 1993, BHIMS operates in the Brighton , Hove and Lewes area. Until recently referrals have mainly come via local councils and housing associations.
However in 2014/15, following a successful bid to the Sussex Police and Crime Commission, BHIMS, as part of the Sussex Mediation Alliance, was awarded £100,000 to undertake mediations referred by the Police.
The report also highlights some of the outreach work which it has undertaken in the community including a 12-day conflict resolution and mediation training course and work with organisations where English is not the first language.
During the year BHIMS was able to train a further 18 mediators bringing the total number of trained volunteers to 48. Secure funding for 2015/16 has also enabled the organisation to develop a conflict coaching programme which will offer an alternative to mediation when one party is not willing, or able, to engage.
The organisation’s first-ever patron, international crime writer Peter James, is also thanked for his support during the year. He recently presented BHIMS with a cheque for £1,500 from money raised at the Theatre Royal showing of one of his books Dead Simple.