New bid to banish the neighbours from hell

NEIGHBOURS from hell-style arguments plaguing communities across the Weston area will soon be tackled by a new team of 'volunteer mediators'

NEIGHBOURS from hell-style arguments plaguing communities across the Weston area will soon be tackled by a new team of 'volunteer mediators'.A team of 12-15 volunteers trained in pacifying neighbourhood spats will be deployed all over the district by non-profit organisation Mediation Somerset.Organisers hope the initiative will put an end to the community clashes which police and councils cannot solve, problems such as abusive behaviour and noise and boundary disputes which ruin the quality of life for scores of people in the area each year.The group will even be training pupils at Weston and Worle schools in the art of 'mediation' - in the hope the youngsters will learn to help their squabbling peers settle their differences.The initiative has been a success in other areas of Somerset and, thanks to a lottery grant, the organisation is ready to start recruiting volunteers in Weston. Eventually it hopes to establish a permanent base in the town.Service manager Colin Gould said: "We deal with the sort of issues you often see on television programmes like Neighbours From Hell - problems created by people living too close together basically."It's normally things like noise, abusive behaviour, animals, antisocial behaviour, boundary and hedging problems and issues involving children that we help with."We either get referrals from housing associations, the police or the local authority. It is often the case that one of the organisations knows there's a big problem but there is very little they can do about it."We make an approach to both parties independently and listen to both perspectives, help them listen to each other's perspectives and try to make them communicate. Quite often we can easily bring some structure to a disagreement, draw a line under the past and help them move towards some kind of solution for the future."We will also be working with schools to train pupils in mediation as well. Although they will be supervised by teachers, the children will have the chance to work out disputes with their peers themselves."Anyone interested in becoming a mediation volunteer is invited to an information evening on April 17 in The Potteries Resource Centre in Langford Road. Anyone wanting to attend should call the group on 01823 352210. All training will be funded.

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