The European Red Cross/Red Crescent Network for Psychosocial Support (ENPS)

Annual Forum Athens 20-22 October 2006


What is the ENPS and what are Psychosocial Activities?
The European Red Cross/Red Crescent Network for Psychological Support (ENPS) has existed now, for 8 years. The aim of the ENPS is to facilitate exchange of experience and developments in the psychosocial domain within the RC/RC Movement; co-ordinate resources and help the transfer of good practices.

Psychosocial (PS) activities include all activities that help vulnerable people and groups who experience emotional suffering, so that they are sooner able to rely on their own and their community resources. Psychosocial intervention helps the affected population to cope more successfully with hardships they face on the road to recovery or in an ongoing situation. PS is a cross-cutting domain that can be found in all interventions from Disaster Prevention & Response to Health & social issues.
The IFRC Policy on PS is to facilitate the resilience of the affected population while at the same time maintaining the health, well-being and efficiency of staff and volunteers
PS often occurs in the way an activity is undertaken. It often includes a core of:
- active, non-judgemental listening
- practical information such as whereabouts of family members, access to social help, access to available & appropriate health & care etc
- community based intervention to re-establish a safe and calm environment and improve community functioning.

The 2006 Forum
For the last three years, the European Network for Psychosocial Support (ENPS), open to all 52 Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies in the IFRC European zone, has come together in a yearly forum. This year, the two day meeting was hosted with hospitality and efficiency by the Hellenic Red Cross in Athens. Over 40 participants and 28 National Societies were represented.
Many participants either gave presentations or took turns to facilitate workshops. An atmosphere of respect for others and their cultural diversity reigned.

The programme
The main theme of the forum, "Working with our volunteers in Communities" (The full programme can be seen on the web-site in the IFRC Reference Centre for PSP), seemed to stimulate all of the participants to reflect and advance on future strategy.
This year, it was felt by all that the quality of the Psychosocial programmes (PSP) and training continues to increase. The recommendations and ideas coming from the numerous workshop groups confirmed this. It was evident by the diversity, richness and cross-cutting aspects of the presentations that psychosocial activities are an integral part of ENPS National Societies.

Examples of presentations covered such diverse areas as integration of PSP into Disaster Response teams, seen in the Montenegro and Estonian presentation, to PSP in ongoing health programmes in the Hellenic RC and Moldavian RC presentations and PSP in supporting populations involved in human trafficking such as the Bulgarian RC activity or PSP in support of migrating populations as demonstrated by the Spanish RC.

Other presentations developed the evolutionary and strategic aspect of PSP. The Swedish RC explained how they are linking PSP to Disaster Preparation drawing on recent lessons learnt. The IFRC Reference Centre shared their ongoing work of being a resource centre for the development of our PSP activities.
Time was taken for the participants to discuss how they would like to use their ENPS network, in order to enhance their work and give added value to the RC/RC Movement approach. The incoming network co-ordinators will be Barbara Juen of the Austrian RC & Conrad Frey of the Swiss RC.

Two external consultants gave stimulating, research-based presentations on two aspects of PS: how to empower the community and how to select volunteers who are able to undertake this work.
The cross-cutting aspect of PSP and the interest in networking came out in the presentation by several other Movement, European, Networks who came to share and exchange in the forum. PERCO, ERNA, European RC/RC cooperation in response to human trafficking and the emerging, emergency contact group within the EU countries. All took time to discuss how we can co-operate further together. The acting head of the IFRC delegation in Budapest Sune Follin, was able to point out that the development of regional offices for the Europe desk, outside of the Secretariat office in Geneva, means that the Networks will have a definite role to play in the cohesion and promotion of activities.

As outgoing Network co-ordinator, I am pleased by the excellent participation in Athens this year. Despite a rich, intense programme, all involved were able to make contacts and reflect together. It was an enjoyable and enriching experience.

Maureen Mooney
French Red Cross

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