What helps the helpers: Needs, barriers, resources

What the project is about…

Working with refugees and displaced people in crisis and conflict contexts is a highly challenging task and often personally burdensome. Self and staff care, therefore, are considered to be important issues for any organization involved with humanitarian aid and/or development cooperation, e.g. community work, health care and education. However, it is not always clear:

  • what kind of support actually protects and promotes staff well-being under such stressful conditions,
  • what staff themselves consider to be important and effective,
  • how support can be implemented in organizational structures and routines shaped by emergencies,
  • to what extent cultural and gender-related dynamics must be considered, and
  • how donor organizations incorporate these issues into their approaches.

Our research project aims at developing and/or improving staff care for projects working with refugees and displaced people in the regional context of the Syrian and Iraqi crises, specifically in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

 What we do…

Our research project focuses on these issues in four steps:

  1. Finding out realities, needs and wishes of project staff, and getting to know the structures already in place, their limits and their usefulness.
  2. Figuring out what needs to change for whom and collaboratively developing effective support structures with project staff for the different working contexts and cultural environments.
  3. Implementing these changes in selected projects in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan and jointly assessing long term usefulness.
  4. Consolidating the experiences and findings by outlining a concept for culture-sensitive, effective, and sustainable staff care structures for any project working in the region.

Project Team (SFU):  

  • Prof. Dr. David Becker (SFU Berlin)
  • Kate Sheese (SFU Berlin / City University of New York)
  • Petra Kühnauer (SFU Berlin)
  • Josephine Jacobi (SFU Berlin)

For further information about the project or ways to get involved, please contact Petra Kühnauer (project coordinator) at kuehnauer@sfu-berlin.de

 The research project is implemented as part of the GIZ regional programme “Psychosocial Support for Syrian and Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced People” in cooperation with the International Psychoanalytic University Berlin (IPU) and the Sigmund Freud University Berlin (SFU).

Implemented by

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)