Mediation in light of Coronavirus

Coronavirus Mediation Policy – updated as at November 2020 following the Government announcement of a second national lockdown

Given the huge impact of Coronavirus felt across the world and in our individual lives, my priority is the safety of you, your family, myself and my own family during this time.   I have been monitoring the situation closely since March, considering how I can best support my valued current and future clients in these difficult times whilst putting safety, health and wellbeing the absolute priority.

I run my mediation practice from my home address in order to provide a completely bespoke, personal, professional service and usually come into contact with many clients each week.  With further knowledge about this virus and in view of the fact we are approaching the Winter season which is notorious for viruses, coughs and colds, regrettably I consider that it will not be safe for me to resume face to face meetings, whether a mediation information and assessment meeting or mediation meeting, just yet.  I also have regard to the national second lockdown and taking into account the Government restrictions will continue to work from home and offer mediation remotely so that you can also safely be at home wherever possible.

At the time of writing this update, myself and my family are unexpectedly self isolating for a period of 14 days.  I expect many of you will also be in this position at some point.  I am a business owner but also a mother to a pre schooler so at the moment I am juggling my caring responsibilities with work.  Again, something I am sure many reading this are all too familiar with.  Please understand these demands which will impact availability and the speed at which I am able to work.  I will continue to do my best to offer the best possible service but we are all human and facing challenges brought about by coronavirus.

Some clients have asked about face to face meetings and in particular whether I can make exceptions.  At the moment I am not in a position to.  To give you an understanding of the rationale for my decision to continue to work remotely an average mediation meeting usually lasts two hours.  It will not be safe for us all to meet face to face in the same room together for that length of time whilst observing the required social distancing.  Practically, I could make the space  work for us all to sit a metre apart but as we would all be within close proximity of one another, inside, masks would need to be worn at all times.  Most of the aspects of what makes the face to face mediation that I offer in a bespoke home setting would be lost.

I also have to factor in that during an average week, I see lots of different clients, most from separate household units and on an average day may see up to three different couples for hours at a time.  It would be too much of a risk for me personally but also for you and your family for me to resume work in the same way as I did pre coronavirus.  It is for that reason that I will be continuing for the time being to offer mediation remotely which is also in line with the Government lockdown restrictions.

Whilst it is always preferable to meet face to face and I very much hope to be able to return to this when it is safer, online video mediation is effective and all the same important principles of mediation apply for the online video method.   You will each be safe in your own space and I will ensure that your discussions progress in the most effective way, albeit online.

Every business/ individual will need to be guided by the Government restrictions whilst also considering their own personal circumstances.  These are unprecedented times.  Mr priority remains ensuring that, as far as possible, myself and my family remain well and you and your families are protected until such time as the position changes or the risk to our health has significantly minimised.

Whilst I very much look forward to being able to welcome you back, I am simply not in a position to say when I will be resuming face to face meetings.  I very much hope to resume by Spring next year but the situation remains uncertain.

I recognise that this is a time of immense pressure and stress for families.   I know that couples will be and are finding this period hard to manage, particularly coming up to Christmas.  Couples who were already on the verge of separating or who had made the decision to divorce prior to COVID-19 will be struggling.  Even those relationships which were intact before all of this may have found the wide-ranging effects of this pandemic and the terrible loss of loved ones have impacted their emotional health as well as their family life.

This dreadful virus is stopping us having conversations face to face but it does not have to stop you talking or finding ways to resolve family conflict in the best possible way.  It is important for children who, through no fault of their own, may be stuck in the family home which might be filled with conflict, upset and trauma, without the relief of time out at school, with friends or extended family members.  It’s also important for you.  Living with unresolved conflict and uncertainty is not good for your physical or emotional health.    Being in limbo or feeling as though there are no options is not good either.

I am here for you.  Although it is not safe for us to meet face to face, I have the additional tool of technology to see you and progress your mediation from start to finish through the online video method.  Although I cannot be with you physically in the room, I will be with you virtually, practically and emotionally from start to finish.  Above all, I will continue to offer you a place of calm professionalism in that window of time when we meet.

If you are considering video mediation, a full individual assessment will need to take place initially, as well as possibly a trial video call, before concluding not only whether mediation as a process is suitable but also whether online video mediation is suitable.

In the meantime, take care everybody and I very much hope to see you (albeit virtually at the moment) soon.

Clare Madeline