Interview: network development manager of the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution

Written by Kate Shannon on 24 April 2015 in Interviews

Diane Marr speaks to Holyrood about the first year of the SCCR

Every year in Scotland, 5,000* young people become homeless due to relationships at home breaking down.

However, shocking as this figure is, experts believe it is the tip of the iceberg with many families struggling behind closed doors. Against this backdrop, the Cyrenians' Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) was set up in April 2014 to help address the problem.

SCCR is a national resource promoting and supporting best practice in conflict resolution, mediation and early intervention.

According to a survey carried out by the SCCR in 2013, 61 per cent of young people said they argued weekly and 25 per cent thought about leaving home monthly.

Meanwhile, 83 per cent of professionals stated that working with families experiencing conflict was part of their role but 50 per cent didn’t feel they had the skills or knowledge to support families experiencing conflict.

61 per cent of young people said they argued weekly and 25 per cent thought about leaving home monthly

However, thanks to the work of SCCR, parents, professionals and young people themselves now have somewhere to turn.

Network development manager Diane Marr told Holyrood: “What the SCCR set out to do was to give people the confidence and the skills they need. It was designed to connect them with people in the mediation field and create a community where people felt much more supported and connected across Scotland.

“We made sure our seminars and conferences were open to all and free at the point of use. We’ve done a huge amount of marketing and promotion of all the events this year and we delivered our targets of four national conferences across Scotland and one big conference for young people.

“We’ve also constantly been evaluating the work we’ve been doing. For example, Duncan our trainer has delivered 53 training sessions. In the first year since we launched, we’ve worked over 1,200 professionals, young people and parents, which is a significant number. The evaluations are showing that over 80 per cent of professionals feel more confident and more skilled, with a greater understanding of mediation and where to get the support that they need for families.

We’re helping to skill people and make them feel more confident

“We’ve worked with over 140 young people who have said that being involved in the training has really helped them to know where to get support. We’re helping to skill people and make them feel more confident but also to connect them.”

For Marr, their website is critical to the SCCR’s success, providing many things, including an online suite of professional resources which are available for practitioners working with families and young people. It contains a range of resources for young people, parents and carers – ranging from advice and information, to an online support service from professional mediators. 

Marr added: “The website is somewhere people can find out where events are and what they can do. We’ve also got an online community platform and for professionals we’re using LinkedIn.

“We’ve been encouraging people to guest blog for us, so we’re bringing together people from the field of mediation, psychology, health, from the violence reduction units and the Scottish ministers have given their support too. It’s really heartening for me and humbling to see Scotland really pulling together because they care about the lives of young people and families.”

In November SCCR launched a national public awareness campaign called Stop.Talk.Listen which asked the general public to upload a selfie to a specially designed social media wall based around the question: ‘what’s been the biggest cause of arguments at home?’

It’s really heartening for me and humbling to see Scotland really pulling together

SCCR used the campaign to get people thinking about how people can stop, talk and listen to avoid longer term resentments and fall-outs.  

Looking ahead, Marr is keen to build on the centre’s achievements over the past year. One of the aspects she would like to take forward would be getting more schools and education departments connected to SCCR via the website.

She said: “What we need to do is find a space for parents and young people in terms of where they go to seek information and advice. Mediation services have historically been available 16 plus, Cyrenian’s Amber Services are available 14 to 16 and a lot of referrals come from guidance departments in schools.

“Our website acts as a great resource for parents, young people, teachers and professionals. If local education authorities are willing to take the SCCR site into their own websites, we would be really open to talking to them about the best ways of doing that and the best way that people can be connected into these resources.”

*figure courtesy of SCCR

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