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Safe spaces in mediation

BBC Radio 4’s Keywords for Our Time this week focused on the use of the term “safe space”. Isabel Hardman explained where the term had come from how it has been used and abused and where sometimes a safe space is not what you either expect it to be or need it to be.

It made me think about my use of the phrase safe space in shuttle or caucus mediations. I often refer to the room that one side of the dispute is based in as their “safe space” but reflecting on Isabel’s comments wonder if it isn’t more appropriate that I refer to the whole of the mediation as the safe space.

The whole of whatever meeting rooms we use at Northwest Mediation is certainly intended to be that safe space; no one is allowed to bully, harangue or harass in any mediation and only in ensuring that the parties feel safe to express their views in the without prejudice/off the record discussions is it possible to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

There’s no doubt that our clients are in a safe space from the moment they reach the meeting rooms to the moment they leave, whether it’s in the corridors between rooms, the loo or the car park Northwest Mediation ensures that our clients, corporate or personal, feel safe and are treated in a respectful manner by all those involved, even in the most heated of disagreements.

Quite often it’s having not been treated with respect that will bring parties to a mediation as was the case for twenty nine year old actress and TV host Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, known as Neelofa in Kula Lumpa.

Neelofa had launched “Be Lofa” turban and shawl collection concurrently at the National Women’s Icon Award ceremony and a nightclub and two news companies took issue with the location of the launch.

OMM Media SDN BHD and Rotikaya Media SDN BHD were pursued by Neelofa for defamation, namely that their articles had implied she was turned down for the Iconic Women Award by the government and that she was a person of “bad morals” and a hypocrite.

The case settled by a two hour mediation conducted by Deputy Registrar Nurulizwan Ahmad Zubir.

Aiman Ariff Abdul Azij counsel for OMM Mediate said the agreement will be formalised into a judgment by commissioner Darryl Goon Siew Chye.

Worlds away from fashion and internet media mediation has led to an agreement in Sheffield that the city council will cut down fewer trees.

After a mediation conducted by the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Peter Wilcox, the council has agreed with the Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG!) that PFI partner Amey will be funded to retain more trees in the environment. Amey’s contract is worth somewhere upwards of £2 billion and had targeted over 17,000 trees for felling.

Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment and Streetscene Lewis Dagnall said “We’ve put forward a proposal on behalf of Amey and the City Council which would see fewer trees replaced over a phased period…We are now going to go into a period of a few weeks to give STAG the chance to further scrutinise the proposals that we’ve put forward before we then have a wider conversation with the public about the next steps… We have got a compromise from Amey which means that Amey have offered to take on more risk and spend more to retain more trees upfront.”

Staying with public/private conflicts but on the other side of the world and in Wellington, New Zealand, mediation is planned but as yet no dates have been set to help settle the bus drivers’ dispute meaning that there will be strikes and warnings of “traffic chaos” on all routes next Thursday.

Potentially 100 routes operated by Tanzurban could be affected but the drivers aren’t saying which routes and so it will only be this time tomorrow that any travellers (including children on school buses) will know if they should have arranged alternative transport.

Still with public transport but in Seattle where 35th avenue in Northeast Seattle is being redesigned, repaved and altered to include bike lanes and alter the priority and parking allowed along a stretch of the road.

Such is the tension caused by the alterations that fireworks have been found in building equipment and death threats have been made to those involved.

Council member Rob Johnson (no relation) whose district includes the area involved said “Having had death threats because of my support for this project, having had individual SDOT workers be targeted, I think has resulted in a real anxiety both for me, my family, and I would imagine for members of the SDOT [Seattle Department of Transport] team”.

As a result the council has brought in mediator John Howell to lead discussions on how the project might be altered to find a resolution that suites all sides. Opposing views primarily concern whether parking should be eliminated in favour of bike lanes. Unusually for matters concerning public roads but standard for mediation practice the mediation will take place in the “safe space” of a private meeting with 14 representatives from all interested parties being involved.

The results of the discussions will be watched by residents across the city to see if and how they can influence changes to policy when they feel decisions taken on infrastructure projects impinge on their rights.

Whether you need a mediator to help out with the council’s plans in Cheshire, a commercial mediator in London, an employment mediator in Manchester, a dispute resolution for your family in Liverpool, a neighborhood mediation in the northwest, then our mediators at Northwest Mediation can help.

Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes or inheritance arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

neighbour mediation; commercial dispute resolution; commercial dispute; corporate dispute; commercial mediator; family mediation; inheritance mediation; property mediator;

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