The Inside Story of Community Mediation
A dispute with a neighbour, roommate, family member or coworker can lead to stress in life, coupled with anxiety and in some cases fear; additionally, conflicts that are left unresolved or are poorly managed fester and often get worse. This is the reality of what the Community Mediation Services Division of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts deals with daily as they mediate, counsel and resolve some of these issues at their eight (8) centres across Trinidad. Their ultimate goal is for persons to “Talk it out, not fight it out!” as they celebrate 12 years of service through Community Mediation.
A division that stands committed to building resilience, promoting a culture of peace and facilitating the healing in our communities, the story of Community Mediation started on October 2nd, 2000 when it was introduced to Trinidad and Tobago on a pilot basis, as an alternative to litigation. However, it was not until April 26th, 2006 that the first Community Mediation Centre was opened. Its beginnings can be traced back to a Cabinet mandate to provide mediation and social work services and proactive programmes to facilitate and encourage behavioural change and positive responses to conflict and other challenging life circumstances.
To date, community mediation has spread throughout Trinidad introducing several programmes aimed at the empowerment of individuals and communities to resolve conflicts peacefully. With offices in Arima, Tunapuna, Couva, Cunupia, Point Fortin, San Juan and Port of Spain, the Division has introduced several programmes including:
- Parental Support Groups- Seven (7) groups meet on a monthly basis in Arima, Cunupia, Penal, Point Fortin, Port of Spain, San Juan and Toco
- A Youth Peer Support Group
- A Men’s Support Group in Arima
- A Peer Mediation Programme through which 542 students have been trained
- Community Empowerment Programmes attended by over 1,900 persons in the areas of Anger Management, Building Trust and Managing Conflict, Leadership Skills, Effective Communication, Conflict De-escalation, Emotional Intelligence and Stress Management.
- Public Education Programming which includes workshops tailored to the specific needs of each community served
While “Talk it out, not fight it out!” may best capture the daily mantra of the Community Mediation Services Division, its ecosystem of programmes are geared toward the enhancement of communities through empowerment of individuals and families. As the Ministry seeks to expand its mediation programme in service to communities across Trinidad, a Mobile Mediation Bus Service will soon be launched in an effort to increase reach and address the needs of particularly rural communities.
The Mediation Division continues to contribute to communities through the provision of programmes and services for peacebuilding and conflict resolution. For more information, contact the Community Mediation Services Division at 225-4267.
Corporate Communications Unit
Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts
624-5004 Ext. 5145 / 5140