British Red Cross

Who is responsible for psychosocial support (PSS)?

Sarah Davidson, Head of Psychosocial Support


Contact for PSS

Dr. Sarah Davidson

Head of Psychosocial Support
British Red Cross
44 Moorfields
London EC2Y 9AL

Direct Line: +44 (0)207 877 7957

Mobile: +44(0)7595 281647

e-mail: SDavidson(at)



Website of the national society or PSS


Field of psychosocial support at the moment

Psychosocial support is integrated into every service provided by the British Red Cross and psychosocial competencies underpin various training programmes including the induction of British Red Cross volunteers who deliver services.  Psychosocial support is also featured in a wide array of guidance, such as on professional boundaries, managing challenging situations, family support, delivering news and debriefing.

The British Red Cross runs the following services in the UK:

  • Emergency Planning and Response, including running telephone support lines following major crises (such as after the London bombings)
  • Event First Aid and Ambulance Support
  • Independent Living, supporting people in their homes
  • International Family Tracing
  • Refugee Support, providing refugees and asylum seekers with practical and emotional support.

The British Red Cross' psychosocial framework is known as: CALMER.

  • CALMER advocates the assessment of risks and individual needs, the promotion of dignity and recognition of diversity and equality.
  • CALMER includes six sequential steps: Consider, Acknowledge, Listen, Manage, Enable and Resource.
  • CALMER emphasises the needs of responders and service users.
  • CALMER is recognised by the British Psychological Society.
  • CALMER is also used as a human resource tool, to structure defusings and support staff and volunteers.
  • Psychosocial issues underpin the British Red Cross' individualised person-centered approach which promotes beneficiary accountability and needs led services.

Since 2005 the British Red Cross has had a partnership with the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to support British Nationals involved in crises around the globe.  Beginning with the South East Asian Tsunami in 2004, the British Red Cross’s Psychosocial Support Teams have worked alongside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following:

  • Indian Ocean tsunami - 2005
  • Qatar bombing - 2005
  • Egypt bombing - 2005
  • Islamabad earthquake - 2005
  • Cancun hurricane -2005
  • Tsunami anniversary - 2005
  • Spain bus crash – 2005
  • Bahrain boat sinking - 2006
  • Germany bus crash - 2006
  • Lebanon evacuation - 2006
  • Dahab terrorist event - 2006
  • Greece wild fires - 2006
  • Saudi Arabia crowd crush - 2006
  • Ethiopia kidnapping - 2007
  • Congo conflict - 2007
  • Thailand air crash – 2007
  • China earthquake - 2008
  • Mumbai terrorist attacks - 2008
  • Zimbabwe multiple repatriations/ evacuations - 2009
  • Haiti earthquake - 2010
  • Madeira flash floods - 2010
  • Libya evacuation - 2011
  • Japan earthquake - 2011
  • Cairo demonstrations - 2011
  • Algeria hostage situation - 2013
  • Nairobi terrorist attack - 2013

In 2014 the British Red Cross recruited Psychosocial Practitioners to provide those delivering services with reflective practice and clinical supervision groups and one to one sessions.  This initiative formed part of the Psychosocial Support Resources Guidance which is based on the best practice guidelines such as IASC (2007) and Sphere (2010) guidelines.  Also in 2014, two pieces of research were commissioned with regard to the effectiveness of the CALMER framework and the effectiveness of the Psychosocial Practitioners.  The results from these studies are due out in 2015 and 2018 respectively.

The Psychosocial Team at the British Red Cross are currently involved in the following projects:

  • Developing resources to raise the awareness of Trafficking across Europe
  • Commercialising CALMER for external markets
  • Improving mental health support to refugees
  • Developing resources for young people around psychosocial support
  • Enhancing the wellbeing of the workforce.




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