With each year trending towards a global uptick in displacement, the need for aid workers and volunteers could not be greater and their work more valued. Yet, frontline work of constantly bearing witness to people’s suffering and immense loss can have tangible effects on responder’s own wellbeing, with particular concern over burnout and secondary trauma.
These concerns are often overlooked as critical support needs in all stages of planning, deployment, and return for frontline workers. Much of the weaknesses here lie in the lack of resources on staff care and few collaboration between humanitarian organisations on building awareness and capacity for psychological support for staff and volunteers, especially for aid workers who have themselves been displaced. In the context of resettlement, teachers and community groups working alongside those newly arrived are equally exposed to the risk of secondary trauma.
Bearing Witness addresses three key areas - prevention of burnout; prevention of secondary trauma; and self-care techniques and coping mechanisms for all those working alongside displaced communities. Practical workshops and trainings will be taught in small focused groups and further supported online through interactive lessons, a dedicated self-care community of practice, and toolkits. These workshops will also utilise creative and expressive forms of self-care and healing.
Bearing Witness also looks at better policy engagement to promote more serious internal commitments by organisations and institutions on staff self-care and greater awareness amongst individuals of timely self-care interventions.
We are currently forming a working group directed by leading practitioners on self-care and prevention techniques to connect expertise and strategise our collaborative work here.