Family mediator, trainer and a Vice President of the FMA
What is your position and what you do on a
I'm a family mediator, consultant and trainer. I
combine mediating in Bristol with consultancy, training and conferences in the
UK and other countries (Finland and Portugal in the last two weeks).I 'm on the
steering committee for Kids in the Middle and International Social Service's
advisory group on developing the use of international family mediation to
prevent and resolve disputes over parental child abduction.
How long have you been in this role and what
brought you here?
Nearly 40 years. My experience as a mental health
social worker and family therapist working with parents and children showed the
overwhelming need for family mediation. The Finer Report (1974) was a further trigger.
What are the people you work for/with like? Any
Many good friends here and in other countries. At a
meeting with the Solicitor-General in February 1978, a civil servant described
mediation as 'a happy concatenation of economy and humanity'. I noted at the
time that economy was placed before humanity.
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
Best is relaxing after work, though I enjoy work
too. Worst is waiting at airports.
Seeing the benefits for children and parents when
agreements are reached.
Tea or coffee?
Both – with a glass or two of wine in the evening.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career
in your field?
Before training as a mediator, make sure you can
arrange an in-service placement or similar opportunity to gain experience and
work towards accreditation.
What song do you listen to the most?
'Hummin' to Myself', sung by Louisa Jones with Man
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
With our family (4 grandchildren) and friends,
books and music, theatre and cinema, holidays and gardening.
If you could change one thing about the family
justice system what would
it be and why?
Require the respondent, as well as the applicant, to
attend an initial meeting with an accredited family mediator, before, or
otherwise after, the filing of a court application. Many respondents do not
understand their DR options. They should have an equal right to receive
information prior to court proceedings. When both parties attend separate
initial meetings, the great majority decide to try mediation. Mediators need
fuller training to provide these initial information meetings and assess
whether mediation is suitable in the circumstances. In cases involving domestic
abuse, it may be possible to mediate, eg on financial matters, through a
continuation of separate meetings. Extending the requirement for respondents to
attend an initial meeting is justifiable on the grounds of the best interests
of the child, since there is strong evidence that mediation produces better
outcomes for children than litigation between warring parents.
If a second wish is allowed, it would be for legal
aid funding for family mediators with additional training to meet with young
people and children in child-inclusive mediation. As part of this feature we are asking a wide range of people who have links to the court system and family law to respond to the above questions and give us some information about what their role entails. We hope to get a wide cross section of people - to this end, if you would like to contribute please email firstname.lastname@example.org.