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Coping with crisis - Focus: Volunteers in emergencies

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Editorial

Feeling good

Feeling good about doing good is not always easy in our work. Especially when you consider that often the backdrop for doing good is poverty, crisis, conflicts and disasters. But, like everybody else, we need encouragement and we need acknowledgement, even when behind what we do is sadness or tragedy.

I got this kind of encouragement recently during the two workshops on psychosocial support at the General Assembly in Geneva. I felt good when five National Societies on our panel presented what they had done to provide psychosocial support to survivors of conflicts, massacres, disasters and discrimination, and when ICRC presented a new way of cooperating around training of RFL delegates and staff.

I felt encouraged not only by the efforts and work of the National Societies, but also by their honesty, the lessons learned and people’s keen interest to improve.

And I felt really inspired when many more National Societies talked about their experiences and also asked for more assistance in terms of strategies, educational material and toolkits. The clear message I got from the presidents, secretary generals and other managers was that we need to train and prepare our staff and volunteers better in order to provide even better support to beneficiaries and to each other.

This is indeed one of the tasks of the Psychosocial Centre, and I am pleased to announce that we are now launching a new toolkit called “Caring for volunteers ”.

This toolkit is very straightforward and shows you what you can do to help volunteers before, during and after a disaster. As many colleagues said in Geneva: “We wish we had been better prepared before the conflict, before the disaster.” Volunteers and staff in the Red Cross and Red Crescent are exposed to death, injuries and tragic tales of loss and maltreatment. On top of that, they often work long hours without a break and without the option of sharing their experiences and emotions. One simple way of giving support is to acknowledge and appreciate them. They need that – just like the rest of us.

You can read more about the new toolkit in this issue. As always, take care.

Nana Wiedemann