Meet our new Service Development Manager – David Jonker

We’re very pleased to introduce David Jonker as our new Service Development Manager.

David has been a Volunteer Mediator with us since 2018 and as he takes up the Service Development Manager role, we sat down to find out more about him and his plans for the Ashford Mediation Service.

Sandra Malone, Ashford Mediation Service: Hi David, congratulations on your new role with the Ashford Mediation Service. For people who don’t know you could you tell us about your background?

David Jonker: I have been a volunteer mediator with Ashford Mediation Service since 2018 and took on the role of Service Development Manager in September 2021. Prior to moving into mediation, I enjoyed a career in retail that spanned two decades, starting in Human Resources and moving into Operations Management.

Before relocating to the United Kingdom in 2018, I had a mediation practice in South Africa that focused on parenting plans and contact schedules for children.

SM: What are you doing for AMS in the role and what made you want to take up the position?

DJ: I am a great believer in the mediation process. This together with my background in mediation made it the ideal challenge to grow our service in the greater Ashford community.

One of the big things I would like to see is Ashford Mediation Service growing to enable us to offer a free mediation service to as wide an audience as possible within our community.

SM: If someone contacts AMS about mediation, what would you tell them that would compel them to engage in mediation?

DJ: If the parties are committed to the process, mediation can produce a better outcome for them than almost any other process that is available to deal with dispute.

With mediation you can create your own outcome, as opposed to an outcome being decided for, or imposed on you.

Mediation is especially effective when dealing with ongoing relationships between neighbours and family members and can reduce conflict and related stress.

Conflict often affects more people than the parties directly involved in the dispute. When mediation is successful, it has a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of all those directly and indirectly affected.

SM: Can you give any examples where mediation has succeeded?

DJ: Our service has assisted many clients over the years and enabled them to resolve disputes that they were not able to do on their own.

More specifically, we have helped numerous parents and children to normalise the lives of those children by assisting the parents to create contact schedules that are in the best interests of their child.

Some of the feedback we have received is that the stress that children were experiencing before, due to the uncertainty of when they would see the other parent, had reduced significantly. The potential conflict between parents had also been reduced by compiling detailed contact arrangements.

Being part of the process and helping to reach an outcome that works for all involved is incredibly satisfying.

SM: Why do you think mediation is an important tool for the community?

DJ: Mediation creates a safe space where the parties can communicate freely and be heard by those who they have differences/disputes with.

Ashford Mediation Service has created an impartial, non-judgemental environment that allows people to meet and communicate.

Our team of mediators has a wide range of experience, and they offer an empathetic and caring approach. Our mediators will not take sides or blame anyone.

SM: How can people contact you?

DJ: You can reach me on 07845 914838 or send me an email at info@ashfordmediation.co.uk

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