Image: Patsie Neilson

Having been in teaching for about 100 years, I was beginning to feel that my post as faculty head of a support for learning department in a large secondary school was taking over my life. I started looking around for something else where I could use my skills that would still impact positively on the lives of children and young people in Scotland.

I went to a party at Hogmanay 2010 and met a very interesting lady who talked about her work in mediation. I liked the sound of it so we arranged to meet up in the new year for further discussion.

At 6 am one foggy, icy January morning, my little car got broken into two bits by a tree after I came off a dual carriageway and down an embankment. Just a tad scary, but I walked away from that with a bruised elbow and the determination to actually make a change in my working life.

I applied for a voluntary post as an intake worker with South Lanarkshire Family Mediation and was accepted (rumours that the boss was influenced by the M&S biscuits that I brought to the interview are totally unfounded). I have been working in High Patrick Street one morning a week since July and have enjoyed being able to talk to people who are trying to put their children first despite the difficulties of separation. You have no idea what you are going to be presented with when you meet with clients – the fact that the person whom I met when I was “flying solo” for the first time was a former pupil only added to the mix.

When the opportunity arose to apply for a traineeship in mediation with Family Mediation West, I jumped at the chance and was delighted to be accepted. So I am now feeling like the oldest student in town. And, if I’m being honest, I’m feeling a bit of a hypocrite when I think of the years I spent advising students on  how to organise their learning and maximise their study time. My untidy cupboards suddenly seem to become an urgent priority. Still, having met and worked with my fellow trainees, our trainers and all the people within both FM West and South Lanarkshire, I feel well supported and am confident that the journey on which I have embarked will be worthwhile despite the U-turns, diversions and crossroads that I will inevitably encounter.



  1. Mark Stalker on March 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Patricia, never underestimate the power of M & S biscuits! Glad you are enjoying your journey with family mediation so far

  2. Catriona Johnston on March 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Patricia, if you need any more untidy cupboards . . . . . . .

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