Dedicated local residents committed to helping to solve conflict and neighbourhood disputes are being sought as part of new volunteering opportunities.
The Restorative Hub is seeking 25 volunteers throughout County Durham and Darlington, who have a keen interest in mediation.
These new volunteer roles will help those suffering conflict to resolve their own problems.
Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner said: “Officers from local Neighbourhood Policing Teams can sometimes spend the vast majority of their shift responding to low-level neighbourhood disputes, conflict and similar issues, which diverts them from their primary duty to protect neighbourhoods and catch criminals.
“To address this, these new voluntary roles will enhance the capacity within the Restorative Hub, and will provide specialist help and support to people who find themselves involved in an upsetting dispute. The team will be fully trained in negotiation, arbitration and problem-solving, and will use these skills to help people in conflict find a satisfactory conclusion to the issues they’re facing.”
Applications are invited from people across the Durham force area to join the team, who should have a keen interest in working in a supportive way with diverse people and be committed to the project.
They should have excellent personal qualities, such as a caring patient approach, a good listening ear, and the ability to remain calm and completely impartial. Applicants must also be able to dedicate on average three hours a week to the role, though this can easily fit around work and other existing commitments.
Volunteer mediator Jim Firstbrook said: “The role is demanding and has been a steep learning curve for me.
“We assist people facing complex, entrenched disputes. Often they’re desperate, vulnerable, and emotionally drained by the issue; while others seem to thrive on the confrontation – digging their heels in and refusing to budge. But I love the challenge!
“It definitely demands creativity, patience, and your best powers of persuasion – and at times you’ll want to tear your hair out in sheer frustration, but it is also immensely rewarding.
“One lady broke down in tears the other day, and couldn’t stop thanking me for being such a lifeline to her during one of the darkest periods of her life.
“It’s so satisfying to help people find solutions to an issue that has plagued them for years, and I’d highly recommend it (though not for the faint-hearted)!”
Full training will be provided, and will be held at various locations across the county during the month of June.
Applicants can choose to do an intensive midweek course (Monday – Friday), or complete their training over five consecutive Saturdays.
Further details and an application form can be requested by emailing [email protected] or by calling 0300 003 1818. The closing date for applications is Friday May 26.