Maria Arpa shares her model for dialogue, social change, community engagement and working through conflict, developed over 15 years working in diverse settings including community, prisons and schools. Maria’s approach moves beyond the standard models of mediation and restorative justice, exposing the conventions that underpin all our relationships and questioning the very things we take for granted in human behaviour. Her inquiry began with the question, ‘What if everything we were taught about conflict is wrong?’
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In 2006, and as a direct response to the increase in drive-by shootings on her road, Maria set up The Centre for Peaceful Solutions (CPS); a charity dedicated to helping people resolve conflict without the use of violence. The UK Government funded CPS to develop a model of mediation for violent crime in an area of London where gun crime had become out of control.
The community engaged in a powerful change process, led by Maria, through which she developed The Dialogue Road Map, a communications tool, designed to break down barriers and get engagement when people are resistant, hostile, angry, violent or resentful.
Maria and others have gone on to use DRM in setting ranging from prisons to classrooms and boardrooms with powerful and transformative results.
Coming from the slums and born to immigrant parents, her background has been key in her ability to connect with ‘hard to reach’ people. Maria’s expertise is in building rapport quickly and teaching others even when they have limited capacity to learn.
Both her books, ‘The Heart of Mindful Relationships’ and ‘Mindfulness at Work’ have gone into reprint. She is a family, civil and workplace mediator, described by the Civil Mediation Council as “the best of the best”.