As we witness atrocities happening throughout the world, we recognise that many are left wondering what they can do to support those impacted by war and conflict.
Developed with some of those affected, here are some ways you can support the people you work with during times of conflict and trauma.
– Recognise that anyone in the room could be impacted by the news and images being shared. The people you work with don’t have to share every detail of their life, heritage or story. Many of our colleagues have connections to areas which have been impacted by war in living history.
– Remember that those impacted do not have a duty to explain what is happening. Some may find sharing helpful, for others it may be exhausting.
– If you are discussing events in communal areas be aware that those overhearing may be impacted. You could simply ask ‘does anyone feel uncomfortable talking about this right now?’
– Develop ways for the pace of work to change. If someone is taking time to respond, recognise that they may be actively supporting others or finding it hard to focus on work.
– Shift timelines, and where this is not possible create space to renegotiate workloads.
– If someone needs to take time away – this could mean leaving early, starting late, or a day off – be open to and support this.
– Ensure that available mental health services are clearly advertised, and in unexpected but easy to access places such as in the toilets, or in a clear website signpost.
– Make space for people to change their minds. This kind of grief and trauma can require different approaches on different days, demanding consistency may cause more harm. It is possible to be flexible and responsive.
– Avoid infantilising people – follow their lead. Different people need different things in time of stress. Assuming someone’s needs can create more work for them.
We know that making art is important to all of us. Having to focus elsewhere during a war or crisis does not bring this into question. Please support your colleagues if their attention has to be elsewhere.