Community mediation programme

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Organisation name Barcelona Provincial Council

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Contact person: Lluïsa Moret Sabidó

gonzalezme@diba.cats.conviven.participadiba.cat

The Diputació de Barcelona is a local government body that fosters the advancement and well-being of people living in the province of Barcelona. It cooperates with the city councils in the province, providing them with technical, economic and technological support to help them deliver quality local services in all the territory. It coordinates municipal services and organises supra-municipal public services.

The Community Mediation Programme was created as part of the support the Diputació offers to local authorities. It currently supports 310 of the 311 municipalities in the province of Barcelona (all municipalities within it except the city of Barcelona), to enable residents to access mediation services when it comes to community disputes. It also works to promote and consolidate community mediation services (CMSs).

The programme responds to the tensions that arise between neighbours or in communities (disputes involving homeowners’ and other associations, disputes between residents regarding public spaces or facilities, but also intergenerational family disputes, or in schools, etc.). At the same time, it works to establish and strengthen community links, and promote inclusive coexistence and social cohesion.

The Diputació’s Community Mediation Programme spearheaded the creation and consolidation of a network of CMSs throughout the province. Through these services, mediation professionals work closely on each issue and give carefully thought-out responses to the coexistence needs and challenges of each specific area.

The programme was founded on a twofold support system:

  • The provision of economic and technical support for municipalities and counties (supra-local administrations) that already run or would like to implement CMSs. Support is provided to 43 municipal and four county CMSs;
  • An itinerant community mediation service that provides coverage to municipalities lacking their own CMSs, thus bringing mediation to the whole area covered.

The Community Mediation Programme is thoroughly consolidated and it has been running for 16 years. It began with 24 CMSs in 2006 and by 2021 it had 47 CMSs and an itinerant mediation service, with its budget continuing to grow year after year. The initial impetus, which came with an economic contribution of 51% made by the Diputació and an average of 49% made by the municipalities, has evolved towards a higher percentage. The increase in municipal contributions is due to the local authorities increasingly engaging mediators for more hours, and creating a more consolidated service.

The programme is replicable to other regions and Member States, as well as extra-EU countries, as long as there is the will to address the challenges of coexistence at neighbourhood or city level.

The programme is consolidated and tested. This means that knowledge and work methodology acquired can be easily transferred, especially in terms of:

  • conceptualisation of community mediation, role of CMSs and their integration into the local administration;
  • how to implement CMSs in municipal organisations, the definition of the role of CMSs, and how they complement and fit into the work of the rest of the organisation;
  • data collection and analysis, in the framework of the Intermunicipal Comparison Circles benchmarking project;
  • creation of knowledge-sharing spaces with continuous contact between professionals in the field, essential for this type of project;
  • a virtual community of professionals that allows CMS mediators to share knowledge, news and documents, or to raise queries and have debates;
  • training and supervision of professionals in the teams.
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