Simon Hughes visit highlights need for mediation

Simon Hughes and Pam Forsyth, CEO of Relate North East London

Simon Hughes and Pam Forsyth, CEO of Relate North East London - Credit: Archant

Minister of state for justice Simon Hughes paid a visit to Relate in Ilford last week and encouraged people to use mediation when seperating.

As part of his role as the Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties Mr Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, visited the centre last Monday to talk about how the process of mediation can help couples get through the separation process in the best way possible without going to court.

He said: “We want more people to make use of the excellent services available in Ilford rather than go through the traumatic and confrontational experience of going to court.

“We know mediation works and should be an option considered by separating couples.”

Changes in legal aid mean many couples no longer qualify for state aided representation in divorce proceedings however millions of pounds worth of legal aid is still available for mediation.

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The law has also been changed to require anyone wanting to take legal action over children or finances in a separation to have to attend mediation first.

Teresea Mcallister, services manager at Relate North East London, said: “The visit went very well, Simon seemed to have a real passion for the work that we do here and understood how important it is. Mediation is a vital service in not only helping couples and families come to amicable agreements during separation but also in stopping people from representing themselves in court and clogging up the legal system.”

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Also at the visit was a former client of Relate, Tricia Mason, who attended mediation sessions with her now ex-husband in 2001. After five sessions, they made an agreement which covered finances, housing and arrangements for their two children.

She said: “The mediator was fantastic, she created an open environment, stayed absolutely neutral and helped us to remain focussed on the children.

“Thanks to the sessions, my ex and I have remained good co-parents and he has been there for every aspect of our kids’ lives.”

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