Dave Walker’s case study for Community Mediation

Resolving issues of radicalisation Father & Son – Co working with a Youth Mediator

Introduction

When a father [in his 50’s] of African heritage and strong Christian beliefs felt his son had been radicalised at University, he withheld his son’s passport and laptop and stopped his son from visiting the family home, thus stopping him from seeing his mother, younger brothers and sisters.

As the son had approached the police, the police felt mediation would be a good option.

The use of a youth mediator

Due to the age of the son who was 18, it was felt that an adult mediator and one of Mel Bruce’s youth mediators would be a good call. As the youth mediator was also of African heritage, this could encourage clients to use a service that reflected their community.

Individual meetings with both parties

The mediators met with the clients individually and heard about the pain and harm they both felt, and they were keen to explore what the clients previously respected about each other, what family meant to them, how this situation was impacting on all the family and the son’s university studies as he headed towards tests and exams.

Exploration of both parties’ feelings

The mediators got permission from the clients to share one positive item from each side with the other party and this appeared to be a contributing factor in the clients saying yes to come together. The mediators also explored how they see each other so they could reflect how each of them would feel coming into the room. As mediators we also asked how this situation had impacted on them personally and if they could imagine what the impact could be on the other party, what each of them felt other party could have done differently, followed up by the question, and is there anything you feel you could have done differently.

The joint meeting

The joint mediation session took place at the mediation centre. Using the technique of the mediators giving a very brief summary of what each client shared on the one to ones, when the individual parties arrived at the centre the mediators had a quick one to one with each party to share what the mediators could say in the summary at the beginning of the session, if they agreed with the summary and if we had their agreement to share this in the joint session.

The youth mediator [aged 17] summarised directly to the father what the father gave us permission to share, then the adult mediator [Aged 57] summarised directly back to the son what the son gave us permission to share.

Ice breaking 

Welcome message, ground rules and brief summaries out the way, the mediators moved the session on. Note to mediators, ‘Never be afraid to ask a question you may already know the answer to’, when the mediators asked the clients to expand upon the answers to the questions they had previously asked on the one to one meetings directly to the other party about impact, what they respected about each other, what they missed about each other, and then asked them to share what each of them felt they could have done differently, the ice started to melt. There were tears and hugs as they realised they needed to express what was good and what they missed about each other, along with what they needed to do to reassure each other they were fine.

In the end, the son got to go and see his mum, brothers and sisters and the father finally returned his son’s passport and laptop. They also agreed the son would introduce his friends from University to his family at the family home.