Mr and Mrs Smith* had been living in their flat for over 20 years. Both had health issues and Mr Smith was wheelchair-bound and experienced mental health issues. When Mr Jones* moved in above, the neighbourly relationship was pleasant. Mr Jones was a young man and this was his first independent home. He’d previously been living with his mum, who was also his carer due to his social and communication difficulties. The neighbours shared a garden gate, which would on occasion be slammed shut, or caught by the wind if not locked throughout the night. Mr and Mrs Smith had tried to speak with Mr Jones about how this disturbed their sleep, who had responded with an apology, but latterly with anger and abuse. A heated argument ensued.
The mediators met with both parties to listen to them and understand how the situation was affecting them as well as how they would like things to be. Both were extremely frustrated and upset with one another, however, both indicated that they would like to find a resolution so that they no longer argued and so that they could feel relaxed and safe in their homes.
When the parties came together, both parties took the opportunity to explain to the other how they saw the situation and how it was affecting them. The mediators facilitated this discussion, inviting both not to interrupt one another at the beginning in order that they have an equal opportunity to feel heard. The mediators then enabled the parties to talk to one another and through this discussion, the parties understood the difference in one another’s lifestyles as well as the impact they were having on one another. This open conversation lead to an apology on both parts and an agreement that included a practical solution around the gate and offers of support to one another going forward.
All parties were clearly relieved and heartened by the discussion and agreement which also gave them hope for a better way to communicate in future should other issues arise.
*names have been changed