It’s an impressive coup for Smile Mediation, a Burnley not-for-profit which delivers community and workplace mediation services. And it’s also an impressive step to take for Centrica who wish to engage their staff via mediation and improved two-way communication and offer this service as an alternative to a formal process.
Burnley.co.uk spoke to Karen Ainsworth, chief executive at Smile Mediation, which is based on Croft Street in the town centre.
“It’s fantastic that Centrica is offering mediation as an alternative to formal processes such as grievances, as often within a workplace, it can appear that such avenues have ‘winners and losers’ and that’s not the case with mediation. Colleagues can communicate in a safe and confidential environment to come to a solution that all parties agree on.
“We’ve had amazing feedback from those who have taken part and we are so pleased that Centrica has chosen us as their preferred supplier.”
The contract commenced in 2021, with the first accredited training delivered in May.
Karen added: “We are so proud that a small Burnley-based social enterprise is delivering services to a giant brand.”
It is testament to the award-winning Burnley business, which was established in 1998 and secured its charity status in 2002. It delivers a wide range of services within the local community, such as resolving neighbour disputes, family mediation and also teaching children and young people how to deploy effective communication skills.
One recent project was working with Cherry Fold Primary School on Cog Lane, teaching year 4 and 5 pupils mediation and therefore lifelong communication skills. In fact, Smile and Cherry Fold won the College of Mediators National Young Mediator of the Year award in 2020. They have also worked with the women’s group at West End Community Centre.
Another important initiative was the launch of Smile Mediation’s listening service for those who felt isolated during the pandemic. You can read some of the feedback from service users on their website and it is clear how much simply having someone to talk to and listen meant so much to them.
We encourage anyone who feels isolated or has anxiety around the pandemic to reach out to Smile Mediation, as well as other services available within Burnley Together. The past year has shown us how our community comes together to support one another, and we are proud of our borough’s achievements.