CfGR statement on scoping exercise

Information on a recent piece of work related to dialogue on abortion protests / vigils

Centre for Good Relations (CfGR) is an independent not-for-profit company whose core work is ‘civic mediation’ involving facilitation and dialogue, working through issues of contention and dispute, and addressing social conflicts and tensions. The organisation works positively with people on matters of contention, taking them through dialogue processes which unpack complex social issues and tensions.  By spending time with people, CfGR practitioners can impart a better understanding of dialogue/mediation and consider whether stakeholders are sufficiently open to a mediative intervention.  Every stage of any dialogue/mediation process is based on the ongoing consent of all those involved.

CfGR was commissioned by the Scottish Government to carry out a scoping exercise in relation to abortion protests/vigils as an initial and exploratory step.  The purpose of this scoping exercise was to establish relationships with a small representative number of key stakeholders, explain the potential role of dialogue/mediation as set out above, develop an initial understanding of dynamics between different stakeholders and hear about issues that stakeholders feel a dialogue/mediation process might help to address.

In July 2022, we undertook a series of initial conversations to hear/understand the perspectives of those involved and to assess the potential of dialogue as a tool to build understanding between stakeholders. Stakeholders included Scottish Government civil servants, campaigners, medical staff and Police Scotland. This was a confidential process intended to listen to views, concerns and perspectives in order to inform a potential dialogue process. It did not seek to provide evidence for particular policy outcomes, as it is not the role of mediation to do this.

Our findings indicate that the issues and relationships are complex and there are diverse perspectives across multiple stakeholders. Based on these initial conversations, we believe that there is scope for dialogue between organisational stakeholders to improve relations and build better understanding if there is the willingness of these stakeholders to do so. No mediation has been undertaken and we are not proposing mediation is an appropriate way forward in the current circumstances. This concludes this scoping exercise.