Family togetherness should be the key theme for all families at Christmas. But for some families where the parents are separated it can prove to be a difficult time.
Faced with this scenario, the Citizens Advice Bureau, has this season launched a campaign to advise affected families to consider mediation as a way of bringing parents and families together in a calm, and constructive setting.
“Many separating couples in Gibraltar struggle to negotiate fair arrangements for their children when their relationship has broken down. There can often be disagreements about where the children live, how much time they spend with each parent, and issues as to what happens during the holidays,” said CAB.
The Bureau held a stall at the Piazza with the aim of highlighting these difficult times and the importance of mediation between separated parents and their children. The Bureau is advising families to attend mediation through the festive season when relationships can be strained.
The initiative was supported by the Minister for Housing and Equality Samantha Sacramento.
“CAB always have community initiatives around Christmas time. This year’s awareness and mediation of course is particularly important because it is a period which can be quite stressful and the CAB Mediators are on hand to provide the family support in what can be difficult circumstances during this season,” Ms Sacramento said.
CAB Senior Advice Supervisor Joanna McGrail told the Chronicle that mediation between family units is always in the best interest of the child.
The Bureau’s staff complement includes four mediators that have already begun a few mediation sessions with local families.
“We are filling a niche in the community that we feel needs to be tackled and we are doing it with mediation,” said Ms McGrail.
“The children go through a very bad time and you know it human nature that if you have a problem you tend to just concentrate on your problem and not see the bigger picture and this is where the children suffering come in.”
“Once they get over ‘the two of everything’ for Christmas, which at the beginning sounds pretty nice, then it boils down to being able to maintain stability in a child’s life. Even though parents separate and there are major changes and mediation is trying to keep as much stability in that child’s life within the separation.”
Ms McGrail added that the stall had received a lot of interest and full support from Childline. It is hoped that in the future mediation will be used often when dealing with separate issues for children.
“Children want, and deserve happy memories of their childhood, and Christmas is one of the most important times for those memories to be made.”