«Beyond the Crisis: Psychosocial Support Programme (PSP) in mid and long-term support»
Gripsholmsviken (Sweden) Friday 12 to Sunday 14 September 2008
This year the European Red Cross / Red Crescent Network for Psychosocial Support (ENPS) were happy to welcome representatives from 18 National Societies, two representatives from IFRC Zonal offices Europe and MENA, 2 guests from the MENA network from Iraq RC and Bahrain RC. In all, 38 participants were present. The Swedish RC hosted this two day meeting organised by the ENPS.
National societies and RC offices present in Sweden: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, IFRC Europe and MENA zone, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Georgia, Switzerland (ICRC), United Kingdom, RC EU office.
The forum was to provide European Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies, working in the domain of Psychosocial Support (PSS), with a venue and time to exchange ideas, best practice and tactics. Key-note speakers were presenting new knowledge.
It allowed the participants to set strategy and recommendations for future PS development.
The forum included a number of presentations by speakers on related topics as well as examples of RC/RC practices and interventions. The main themes developed were:
- Friday: Psychosocial Support: is it ever over?(exit strategies for PSP programmes)
- Saturday morning: Vulnerability and Migration: issues for us all?
Saturday afternoon: Growth following adversity
- Sunday: The world as a witness: Media and the tension between the need for information and the need for privacy
Equal time was given to participation in facilitated workshops.
First conclusions were the following:
Topic 1: Exit strategies: how do we end programmes?
- Try to meet people’s different needs within local capacities and time
- Exit strategy should be clear from the beginning, but flexible and linked to the objectives
- Do not forget that you are (dealing with) human beings - you build relationships - try to find good ways of closure
Topic 2: Migration and Vulnerability: Who are the most vulnerable groups? How can we reach them?
- Migration includes a very high risk for severe forms of traumatization: needs for safety, dignity and control as well as information are the most important ones to fulfil
- Families of the missing need long and ongoing psychosocial support-people have to be trained how to provide this help
- Children’s protection should be a factor of high priority within our organisation: establish safe environments for children through risk assessment, policy development, codes of conduct and educational and support services
Topic 3: Growth following adversity: the perspective of positive psychology
- Positive changes can occur even in the midst of suffering
- Need to explore how to facilitate growth; opens up new ways of thinking about trauma that span the full range of human functioning
- Be aware of the potential for growth; but caution not to imply that growth is to be expected; or to imply that the person has failed for not making more of their experience-growth is the "journey" not the outcome
- To understand that growth arises from the struggle to meaning; not from the traumatic event - must not imply that trauma is to be welcomed-Posttraumatic Stress as the "stepping stone" along the way
Topic 4: Media and the survivors: what are our roles?
- Different roles of the media (alarm bell, disaster managers, frontline reporters, fundraisers, restoring family links, investigators)
Our roles change accordingly (from sharing experience, giving information, explaining, being the voice of the survivors, protecting and coaching the survivors, educating the media)
- Psychosocial activity is a cross-cutting one that enhances the Red Cross/Red Crescent global approach to health. It was clear that many activities have psychosocial elements and all national societies present had psychosocial programmes, activities and/or related training. Further effort is needed to broaden the scope of these activities, to increase training for the volunteers and to better support the volunteers in their work. This field is evolving and examples of best practices and lessons learnt lead to an interesting forum.