To support those in need, staff care is essential

A safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental right. Today, on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we want to highlight the importance of this topic, specifically of providing good staff care that lowers work-related stress.

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on advocating towards governments and employers to provide a context in which risks in the workplace are minimised and for them and employees to take these risks seriously. Lowering work-related stress and high work pressure, are an important part of promoting health and safety. 

People who work for Dorcas can be confronted by difficult and stressful circumstances, such as conflict, instability and natural disaster. Our colleagues are very motivated and actively working to support people who face poverty, exclusion and crisis, but they also live in these challenging contexts themselves. It is therefore of great importance to consider how to support staff when they are facing stress inducing situations. This is relevant for Dorcas, but also for other organisations that supply humanitarian assistance and facilitate development cooperation.  

Annerieke Kisjes, International HR Advisor at Dorcas, describes: ‘While our colleagues are providing humanitarian assistance and psychosocial support, they also have to face these circumstances in their own lives. When the conflict in Ukraine started, colleagues from Dorcas Ukraine had to evacuate and became internally displaced persons, while they were simultaneously helping others who were fleeing the violence. We actively offered support and counselling to our colleagues, which benefited them a lot. Also, recently a mayor earthquake caused devastation in Syria. Our colleagues in Syria immediately started to supply shelter and meals to those in need. At the same time, the Dorcas office in Syria was severely damaged, their own houses were not safe to return to and for some it was unsure whether friends and family were safe.’ 

Maureen Mahfouz, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Coordinator for Dorcas Lebanon, describes: ‘It is challenging because we live in a very difficult context. We work with people who are suffering from injustice and traumatic events, which is very stressful. Activities that could help us deal with distress are not always possible because of for example the economic crisis and lack of time. However, as a team we receive training to deal with this and to build and strengthen our relationships, as we face this together.’   

As an organisation that works in difficult circumstances, Dorcas has a responsibility towards its employees to make sure that they are safe and receive the support they need. Psychosocial support is a vital part of this. We offer coaching, counselling, mentoring and training and right now, we are rolling out a worldwide staff-care project to be able to even better support Dorcas employees. The staff care that is needed in the country offices, can differ across different cultures and we are sensitive to the needs of our staff. In collaboration with the Antares Foundation and our country offices, we endeavour to address key areas for improvement and organise the necessary support, training and guidance in strengthening psychosocial resilience of Dorcas staff, volunteers and partners. In this way, we support our colleagues, and this enables them to support project participants and to continue to work on the frontline for those in need.  

28 April 2023

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