Sharon Crooks

Wandsworth Mediation Service

Tell us about Wandsworth Mediation service. ?

Wandsworth Mediation Service is a London charity that provides a free mediation and conflict coaching service to Wandsworth residents, helping them to resolve disputes outside court, and to communicate in ways that can improve relationships.

Mediation is a voluntary process where people in conflict are supported by neutral mediators to have a conversation and find a solution that works for them. All of our trained mediators are volunteers, many of them local residents, who are committed to serving their local community.

Our Community mediators help neighbours to resolve disagreements about issues such as noise, parking or boundaries. Our Child Contact and Inter-Generational mediators help parents and family members to navigate through relationship challenges. When two people can’t agree to participate in mediation, our Conflict Coaches can support individuals to work through their options to respond to a dispute. Our Commercial and Workplace mediators support people in business or at work to negotiate solutions and rebuild relationships that have broken down (this is a paid-for service that helps fund our community work). We also offer training courses and workshops in communication and conflict resolution skills. During lockdowns we offered virtual mediations and training, and now we can be flexible and offer a blend of virtual and in person services.

• What made you want to become a trustee for the Charity you support?

I have been a Trustee since December 2018. am passionate about mediation and in the mediation world,Wandsworth Mediation Service has a really good reputation, with some very experienced mediators volunteering their time. WMS ploughs the fees for Workplace and Commercial mediations back into the charity to provide Community and Inter-Generational mediations free to Wandsworth residents. This model has helped us to keep going when many community mediation services have folded because of loss of funding. The trustees are constantly thinking of new ways to enable the charity to thrive and to offer services that help people to resolve their differences and live in peace.

• Did you know much about the charity before you became involved as a trustee?

I was already volunteering as a Community Mediator so I could see how the office team bring a really powerful combination of compassion and professionalism to their work, and how committed the trustees are to making a difference in the local community.

• What do you feel trusteeship adds to your personal and professional development?

I have learned a lot about collaboration, finances, funding and risk management, all of which are really useful skills in my work.

• What value have you been able to add to your charity with your personal and professional experience?

I have a background in HR and consulting so that is sometimes useful when we are planning for the future. I volunteer as a Community mediator and Conflict Coach so hopefully have been able to help people to resolve their conflicts, and I deliver workshops in person and virtually, which helps people to communicate better and handle conflict in more positive ways.

• If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?

It always takes more time than you think! Doing the job well means you need to read the papers in advance so you can contribute in the meetings, and you need to be prepared to take on tasks in between meetings, to really add value.

Sharon Crooks