Written by Graham Perry

Graham Perry M.A. Cantab FCIArb Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer

12 August 2021


A casual read of Mediation topics might leave you with the mistaken impression that the majority of people disputes (non-commercial) are about middle-class arguments over Neighbour’s Noise and Property Boundaries. Wrong. In terms of numbers, the real focus of concern is on the Strains and Stresses experienced in the lives of working-class families huddled together in high-rise residential blocks without gardens or nearby parks for relief.
First, the lockdown has had serious consequences as families have had to stay at home for prolonged periods of time. Second, the breadwinner – husband or wife – have been furloughed adding to the number of bodies occupying the same space. Third, arguments are occurring with a greater frequency between the adults and between the adults and the children. Fourth, the repetition and monotony of daily life further aggravate as the schools are closed and the children spend more time in the flats.
Mediation is about disputes and disputes have many different origins. They are not always about family inheritance, second marriages, property rights or pension entitlement. This is not to downplay the significance of such matters. They are disputes; they create tensions + animosities, and a skilled mediator can play a part in resolving such problems. My focus over the next few days is on the disputes that have damaged family life + led to increased violence within the family unit with wives/mothers/children incurring the greatest pain.
A relevant question at the outset – is the experienced and skilled mediator from the suburbs is the right person to knock on the door of the council flat and offer his/her services. In a sentence – do middle-class mediators from say, Aylesbury, have sufficient awareness and understanding of the day-to-day rhythms of council flat life in New Cross to really play a role as a mediator? This is not a question of class as such but a question of life experience + awareness. Can you help solve high rise problems if your life has been experienced in the leafy suburbs?



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