K1 DIRECT volunteers with facilitators after receiving their certificates.

PHILIPSBURG--Eight volunteer members of K1 Britannia Foundation’s Disaster Relief and Crisis Team K1 DIRECT recently received a two-day psychosocial training facilitated by Inspired – Psychology Practice and Consultancy and the St. Maarten and Netherlands Red Cross.

The two-day training delved into aspects of psychosocial support, including team well-being, self-care, prevention and communications, both within and outside of disaster and crisis situations. The training was given by psychologists Caroline van Oost and Sanne Gruijters of Inspired.

During the first day of the training, K1 DIRECT gained an understanding of psychosocial support, during which they had an opportunity to make their own personal stress management plan which was linked to peer and organisational support, and how they can utilise support from a partner.

This component introduced participants to different opportunities in which team members and managers can support and promote a healthy working environment that helps to protect against staff burn-out. The team also received insight into how different people experience and express distress, as well as the cultural implications and expressions of distress – something particularly important when considering working in or with different cultures.

On the second day of the training, participants examined how psychosocial knowledge and support can be integrated into different frontline activities, such as shelter management, distribution and search-and-rescue.

Five essential principles of post-disaster psychosocial care are incorporated into these frontline activities. These are to promote a sense of safety, calming, self- and community efficacy, social connectedness and hope.

Participants also learned how to implement psychosocial first-aid frameworks, such as look-listen-link and non-violent communication, which focuses on observing behaviours and responding appropriately during a disaster situation.

“I really appreciated how the training covered psychosocial aspects on every level, including individual, peer and organizational points. We also received important resources, which not only can be applied to disaster situations, but also in a general sense, like stress management. The training provided us with information that we can implement within affected populations after a crisis, but also information that can be applied to ourselves as disaster responders,” said K1 DIRECT Program Manager Iris Hakkens.

“It was a fruitful training where K1 DIRECT received a lot of information that can be implemented into its own psychosocial management plan within crisis situations. The aim of the training was to enable K1 staff and K1 DIRECT volunteers to use basic psychosocial competencies within the framework of their anticipated disaster functions.

“It was designed for them specifically by Inspired with support and funding by the Red Cross Netherlands and St. Maarten. It was a great learning experience related to self-care, communication techniques, de-escalation methods, community engagement and important guidelines from research and experiences after disasters. Three words they will not forget will inspire them in their work: Look, Listen & Link!” said Gruijters.

For more information about K1 Britannia Foundation and K1 DIRECT, persons are asked to visit its website

www.k1britanniafoundation.org . Persons can also send an e-mail to

[email protected] or visit its Facebook page at

www.facebook.com/k1sxm .