Caring for Caregivers

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Caring for Caregivers

Promoting self-care and organizational staff care for Iranian social workers and addiction counsellors

What happens when you gather 62 social workers, addiction counsellors and managers from 31 Iranian non-government and government organizations to spend five days together in interactive workshops on staff-care and self-care? Not just care awareness, but comradery and capacity building.

Several months ago, Operation Mercy Iran conducted a capacity-development training workshop entitled “Care for Caregivers”. This was the first time that a workshop on staff-care and self-care was held in Iran. From all across the country, front line workers and managers in addiction treatment and HIV/AIDS care, as well as Iranians working with the Red Crescent Society, the State Welfare Organization, UNHCR, ICRC, and Operation Mercy Iran (first row in the bottom of the photo) enjoyed this 5-day interactive workshop that covered various topics including stress, challenges, compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, burnout, and debriefing.

We were privileged to have Dr. Scott Breslin, International Director of Operation Mercy, as the lead facilitator. In reflecting on his experience of the event, Dr. Breslin remarked:

“In spite of the language and cultural differences, I felt a unique connection with those in the seminar. Somehow it felt that we had all made a commitment to a similar purpose. We had all dedicated our lives to improving the lives of others. I experienced a deep sense of comradery that superseded all our differences and allowed us to enjoy a great deal of rapport. There was a mutual sense of learning. I have led scores of leadership seminars in scores of countries but this was something special. […] the seminar was greatly appreciated and people left with new knowledge, ideas and tools regarding self-care and staff-care. ”

Mr. Amir Zardouz, Deputy Director and NGOs Capacity Development Project Manager, and Ms. Azadeh Bahramji, Afghan Refugees Empowerment Project Manager, helped with the facilitation in the afternoon sessions.

Mr. Zardouz noted that: “It was the first time that many of the participants heard that they needed to take care of themselves and their colleagues; I was, indeed, astounded by how the participants responded. Subsequent to the training workshop, whenever I see the participants in other events or meetings, they keep telling me how this training event has truly changed their perspective on their service provision, work and personal lives.”

The final aspect of the workshop, post-event homework, has served to help keep self-care and staff care high on personal and organizational agendas. In total, 91% of participants have sent back self-care and/or staff-care plans and in return received their certificate of completion.

We wish to thank the Embassy of Switzerland in Iran for funding the event and the Iranian Red Crescent Society for their ongoing support and partnership. The event has indeed made a lasting impact on the civil society in Iran.

NB: A Persian language poster and banner for this workshop are available for the participants to use in their NGOs and government offices. They can be downloaded below.


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