Case Study One
George is an elderly Polish gentleman who moved to Britain during the Second World War. He lived with his wife who has recently died. George always got on well with his neighbours until the next door neighbour sold his house. The house was then privately rented. The new tenants Joan and Mark have a teenage daughter Gemma (age 16) and a son James (age 15).
The houses are semi detached with a shared drive. The problems began when James started to play football with his friends on the shared drive. This resulted in the ball hitting George’s property. Frequently the boys would climb on George’s garage roof to retrieve the football. George’s fence was damaged and on one occasion the glass in George’s front door was broken.
When George approached his neighbours he experience a barrage of abuse including the view that George had no right to be in this country and that he should go back to Poland. The situation deteriorated to a point where George was afraid to leave his home because of James and his friends. The only time George would leave his house on a regular basis was to go to church. On one occasions he came back and found that the electrical box on the side on his house had been tampered with and racial comments painted on his garage door.
The Police made a referral to Mediation Works. We contacted George and went out to see him. He was able to tell us what had been going on and how it had affected him. He was particularly upset about the fact that his neighbours did not know about the role the Polish people had played in the Second World War and that they saw him as some immigrant who had no right to be in the country. After talking to George we got his permission to talk to his neighbours.
When talking to his neighbours it became apparent that George was right about the fact that they were ignorant about the role Polish people had played in the Second World War. George speaking broken English also added to the communication problem. However, Joan and Mark accepted that the problems had been caused by their son and his friends. They said that they did not condone such behaviour.
We suggested bringing the two neighbours together for a face to face meeting and both parties were willing to. The meeting resulted in a better understanding between the two neighbours and it enabled them to resolve the situation. As a result George has not had any further problems with James and his friends.
Case Study Two
A group of teenagers are regularly playing football in a residential street, very often as many as 20 at a time. This resulted in cars and property being damaged. On one occasion one of the residents threatened the youths with a shot gun.
The police were involved and many of the youths that lived in the street were issued with an ‘Anti Social Behaviour Contract’ (ABC). Whilst this prevented some of the youths playing football it did not stop everyone and did not resolve the problem.
Once this was recognised by the Police, Mediation Works were asked to get involved. After talking to many residents it became clear that the young people simply did not have anywhere to play football in the area.
We organised a meeting for all the residents and youths. The meeting was well attended and it was agreed the problem were caused by a lack of facilities. After some discussions, a patch of land behind some of the houses was identified as suitable for playing football. This had been closed down and cordoned off because residents had complained about drug taking and balls being kicked into their gardens causing damage.
It was agreed that the group would try to get funding to improve the area and perhaps put up high netting to prevent balls going into gardens. The young people were concerned about safety, which they felt could be improved by the installation of lighting. The group also agreed that residents and parents of the youths would take it in turns to patrol the area to prevent it being taken over by drug users. A couple of the parents were very keen to start a football team.
The group were successful in gaining funds to improve the area and there is no longer a problem with football being played in the street.
Case Study Three
This case was referred by a Housing Association in Ludlow. They had been receiving complaints from a number of tenants about children playing in the street and causing a nuisance. The housing executive responsible had tried to resolve the situation. This included involving the police. However, nothing seemed to work.
Mediation Works contacted all the residents in the street and asked if we could go and talk to them about the situation. It soon became apparent that the street was divided in two about the situation: those with children and those without.
It also became clear that there was nowhere else for the children to play. There was a play area at the bottom of the street which had not been maintained and was at present used by older youths. Some of them were drinking alcohol and there was evidence of drug taking. This meant that the parents were reluctant to let their children play there.
When talking to the residents without children they agreed that this was a problem and they were also concerned about the children’s’ safety. However, at present it was not uncommon for children to run into the street whilst playing and there was a clear danger that an accident might happen.
After talking to each “side” individually, Mediation Works organised a separate meeting for the adults and the children. In those meetings people were asked what they would like to happen to resolve the situation. We then arranged a joint meeting with both the children and the adults to discuss the views of the children and to enable all to find a way forward.
During the meeting it was agreed that at present the children had nowhere safe to play. To change this situation the group decided to form a tenants and residence association and to apply for funding to improve the play area at the bottom of the street. They also decided to involve a local councillor.
Because of the mediation process, the communication between those with children and those without children improved and they were no longer having shouting matches in the street. The children’s’ behaviour also improved and when they were asked to move they did so without becoming abusive.
We kept in contact with the referrer. A two years have passed since the mediation and there have been no further problems. The referrer told us that they had been trying to resolve the situation for five years before involving Mediation Works.