1. To whom is your service meant for?
We are a general mediation service. Residents can contact us directly in their experiences of disturbances in the neighbourhood. In addition, also housing companies (housing managers, housing support etc.), whenever considering certain issue being suitable for mediation, may contact us and deliver cases. Also various municipal agencies, such as housing social workers, in addition to various NGOs in the field, can contact us in their need of mediation and/or consultation
2. What do yo do?
We provide help by applying mediation service in different conflict and disturbance issues between neighbours
3. What kind of situations can be handled in mediation?
Often situations concern different kind of noises, some kind of problematic experienced behavior or, for example, how someone has experienced some interaction or messaging between neighbours. Since all mediation is voluntary based, the most important factor is the readiness of the conflict parties to get involved with the process. Willingness to mediate is explored in the beginning phase of the process
4. What mediation means?
Mediation process involves, first, seperate meetings/discussions with all of the conflict parties involved, following possible joint meeting(s) and agreement and, then, a follow up. The task of the mediator is to support all parties exploring feasible solutions to the situation and to help everyone being heard and understood in their experiences
5. Where are the meetings arranged in?
Seperate meetings are usually arranged in the resident’s home or in some other applicable place for the resident. The joint meeting is usually arranged in a neutral space nearby, such as in the club room of the condominium in question. Also libraries may be able to provide applicable rooms.
6. What is not mediation?
Mediators support every conflict party equally and therefore cannot take stance on the actual matters. Therefore mediation process cannot be used to advocate on one’s case solely. Mediators neither provide legal aid
7. What the service costs?
The mediation service is free of charge as well as consultation. The Centre is funded by The Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA)
8. I live in a small city in the northern Finland, do you have mediation here?
We provide service primarily in the capital area, Tampere and Turku regions. It is possible that mediation is held in other parts of Finland as well, in which case we usually charge travel expenses
9. Can we mediate in phone?
Depending of the situation mediation discussions may be held by video calls (Teams, Zoom, Whatsapp). Seperate meetings are most suitable for this. The joint meeting is usually face to face meeting
10. What seperate meetings involve and who takes part in them?
Seperate meetings are arranged personally with everyone who experiences as being part of the conflict situation. Usually present is one person or family and the mediator per meeting. Mediator asks questions concerning the incidents and situations happened, thoughts and feelings of the parties and their wishes of the future neighbouring
11. Can I just call or send you an email?
We provide free of charge consultation in any experienced conflict situation concerning housing and neighbourhood. Contacting us does not require launching mediation process. In consultation, the situation can be brainstormed from different perspectives. However, the Centre mediators do not provide solution proposals based on this consultation. This is because Centre deals with social conflicts and behavioral issues which cannot, often, be resolved by proposals only
12. When do you have time?
We respond to every contact in about week and inform about the more detailed schedule of the process. Depending of the queue situation, new cases are taken in between one week and one month
13. What means a conflict party?
With conflict party it is meant a person who experience as being part of a certain disturbance issue. Most often they are residents but may involve sometimes also housing company personnell or condominium goverment
14. Who do you approach first and why?
First we approach the initiator of the mediation process and ask them who others are involved and should be approached. If the initiator is a housing manager, we approach the residents in a suggested order. In general, the order of the seperate meetings is an unimportant factor, since the mediator asks similar questions from every conflict party. All discussions with the mediator are confidential
15. Can I bring a support person with me?
Support persons, such as family membres or friends, can be brought into seperate meetings. That being said, the mediator still wants to hear the experiences directly from the resident as much as possible. Depending of the case, support persons may also be brought into the joint meeting. Naturally, they need to comply with the confidentiality and other principles of the process
16. What agreement and follow up means in practice?
If an agreement is made, it is often written down as an agreement paper. Agreements may involve behavioral aspects or other issues agreed on. The follow up, taking place usually after a month or two, may be arranged as seperate phone discussions with all the parties involved or as a new joint meeting. The final result of the process is usually informed to the housing company, if they have been the initiator of the case
17. As an initiator, do I need to request the parties to join the process?
The mediation process can only be launched if the contact information of the conflict parties are provided. If the inititator is a resident, we request that one investigates at least the surname and the house number of the other party. If the initiator is a housing manager, we request that one investigates the primary approval of the residents and then provide all contact information
18. Somebody causes noises but I don’t know who, can we mediate?
If an initiator resident does not know who causes the disturbance one experiences, we suggest that one is active towards the housing manager first and inform about the situation. It is advisable to ask if the Centre is known by the housing manager and, if not, also to provide info about the mediation. Should the housing manager receive multiple reports of similar experiences, they can approach the Centre for consultation. Certain type of mediation process can be arranged also in cases where some of the conflicts parties are unkonwn, which process involves wider residential meetings
19. Do I need to face the other party? Can’t we handle the conflict without meetings?
In community mediation processes we expect physical participation and actual meetings to take place. This is necessary because discussions concern behavioral aspects, of which the parties usually have different experiences and understanding. Building common understanding in such aspects require encountering the other party
20. The housing democracy board / condominium government causes problems, can we mediate?
Internal problematic relations within the housing democracy board or the condominium government are well suitable for mediation. The process is similar to any other mediation process starting from seperate meetings with the board/government members. In the case of residents complaining against the board/government, mediation can also be arranged. Joint meeting in such a case might take a form of additional shareholders’ meeting (see also point 28)
21. The debate of the frontier issue has lasted 12 years, can we still mediate?
Sometimes situations have lasted multiple years and they still are fully suitable for mediation. In the starting phase of the process, the readiness of the parties is investigated
22. Why can’t the mediator just solve this by telling the neighbour how to behave?
In addition to the mediatior’s role of being impartial and neutral, we believe that in behavioral issues rarely an outsider can effectively define how someone should behave correctly. This is because behavioral changes only take place when there is a willingness to do so. Changing one’s behavior, such as living habits, takes motivation and focus. In addition, often people tell slightly different story of what has happened and, since evidence is missing, they are word against word situations. In mediation, people are encouraged into authentic presence and participation, which then creates common understanding and possibilities of change. The underlying theory in mediation is based on so called restorative justice
23. Can we force people to participate in the process?
People cannot be forced to agree with each other or neither to meet each other. When contact information is provided, mediator asks questions to motivate participation but it is up to the conflict parties to decide whether eventually to get involved or not
24. What information / papers do you need?
The Centre does not require any documents. Intead, a short description of the situation from the initiator is enough in the beginning. Situations are discussed in detail later in the process. If one party has some documentation or evidential material of the incidents, they can be shown to the mediator in the seperate meetings
25. We have a conflict with a cottage neighbour, do you handle these kind of cases?
Yes, cottage neighbourhood can be mediated in the Centre. We have mediated, for instance, community garden issues as well as cottage residents against permanent residents issues
26. There is a police report made form the incidents with the neighbour, can it still be mediated?
Police report needs to be taken into consideration when planning mediation processes but is not an obstacle per se. Police should be informed about the starting mediation also to make sure that police has not already directed the case to the Mediation in Criminal and Civil Cases -service. Two different mediation processes can also be held but needs to be coordinated
27. Do you also handle large conflicts involving the whole condominium / housing cooperative?
Sometimes the atmosphere in the whole building has gone down due to multiple social, technical and/or governance incidents resulting to residents avoiding each other and arguing with each other in the house meetings and in the common places and forums. In such a case, as long as the board / housing company assists the process, a specific mediation process can be launced, where the whole building is approached (see more info here)
28. We have a residential meeting coming up, which tends to be a one big argument, can you come to run it?
It is possible that a mediator assists in running residential /shareholders’ meetings. Options vary from solely come to the meeting to provide general info of mediation services, planning and running a specific point in the meeting or running a mediation process involving the whole building (see point 27)