WSMS have been in the news recently, following media interest in the reported increase in neighbour disputes following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
First off came a call from the Guardian newspaper to the charity’s Service Co-ordinator, Nick Handley. This led to him being quoted in a subsequently published article on the subject, which also included other mediation services from around the UK.
This sparked interest from Radio 4 who briefly interviewed Nick on the lunchtime ‘You and Yours’ consumer affairs programme, on 8th October, which was celebrating its 50th birthday that week. Nick was asked about noisy neighbours and the effects of Covid-19 and how to approach a neighbour if you have an issue. Listen to the piece here.
Meanwhile, one of WSMS’s main funders, the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office, also issued a press release talking about the escalation in Police referrals to community mediators. WSMS is part of a Sussex Mediation Alliance which also includes Brighton & Hove Independent Mediation Service (BHIMS) , Hastings & Rother Mediation Service and Mediation+ (based in Hailsham, East Sussex). This press release highlighted that in lockdown months the Alliance had seen a 196% increase in referral numbers compared to the same time last year – supporting 285 people during that time. This prompted interest from the Daily Telegraph as they hadn’t been aware of Police services using mediation providers in such a way. This last enquiry was handled by BHIMS
This huge increase in workload continues. WSMS has had to recruit more volunteer mediators. 11 new recruits are engaging in the charity’s first virtual training course, using the video conferencing channel – Zoom. This is taking place throughout October to meet the requirements of the accreditation body (Laser Learning South East – Open College Network).
We are also seeking to recruit further trustees to serve on the Management Committee to help steer the charity through some difficult times and under the guidance of a new Chairperson.