Development and history

Picture: Alfred Kenneally, Unsplash

The initiative for starting widescale community mediation was made by the  Finnish Refugee Council (Suomen Pakolaisapu ry) and in particular Coordinator Terhi Joensuu.

In the spring of 2006 Terhi Joensuu from the KOTILO project of the Finnish Refugee Council met with the mediators and educators Maija Gellin and Jens Gellin in the office of the Finnish Forum for Mediation. All of the three already had experience from mediation in criminal and civil cases. The operations and trainings started from there, and during the same year trainings were held in the capital city area, Turku, Tampere, Kajaani, Oulu and Vantaa.

Originally, community mediation was a model created as a part of the KOTILO project carried out by the Finnish Refugee Council and funded by RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association) and the Ministry of the Environment. The purpose of the KOTILO project was to create practices to improve living comfort in areas with a large number of residents from immigrant backgrounds, and to prevent conflict and disputes.

The project was supposed to end in 2013, but with the help of further funding the work continued in 2014. At the same time there were big changes in the personnel of the project: Miriam Attias was elected as the new director and Marie Makweri started as the coordinator in the capital city area. Leena Kaitonen continued to work in Turku and Timo Karppinen in Tampere. Jens Gellin was elected as the coordinator of community mediation. Later in 2014, Hanna Vuorinen replaced Timo Karppinen in Tampere. Miriam Attias and Hanna Vuorinen have been especially influential in the development of community mediation, and in the years 2015-2018, the focus of the organisation was on developing networks, education, working with asylum seekers, spreading community mediation nationwide and creating the Handbook on Community Mediation, among other things. The actual Community Mediation Centre was established in 2015 with the help of funding from RAY.

In 2018 Pasi Ojala joined the team after Leena Kaitonen moved on to another position. Also Miriam Attias started in a new position as the leader of the Depolarize project of the Kone Foundation. Hanna Vuorinen moved on to other tasks in 2019. The Community Mediation Centre was transferred from the Finnish Refugee Council to the Finnish Forum for Mediation in March 2019, and at the moment the work team consists of the director Pia Slögs, Jens Gellin, Pasi Ojala and Kethlin Lörincz.