This year’s Conference The Age of Resilience is an opportunity to discuss the different routes we can take to reach recovery and resilience. The discussion aims at highlighting the ways to achieve resilience, individual, social, and structural, by sharing resilience strategies and approaches to contain systemic threats.

To register for the workshops, please click on the button below.


14:40 - 16:10 CEST

WORKSHOP A | Building resilience in victim support workers: overcoming psychosocial risks

Conducted by Mafalda Valério, Project Manager at the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV)

Psychosocial risks and stress related with work constitute, in accordance with the European Agency for Security and Health at Work, the major challenges faced by organisations, with significative impact in the health of people, entities and national economies. The International Labour Organisation points out risks such as: work overload, mental and physical overload, monotony, lack of empowerment, burnout, psychologic harassment and violence, insecurity at the workplace and stress as the main psychologic hazards faced by employees glob-wise. When overlooked, these menaces may have direct impact in peoples’ well-being in all life’s spheres – organic, emotional, cognitive, social and behavioural.

The health and well-being of APAV’s staff has always been at the heart of our human resources policies. The SARS-COVID 19 pandemic crisis, however, triggered the need to take one step further. Not only the social and economic crisis brought by the pandemic was a concern, but also isolation from families and loved ones and its psychologic impact, heightened by long-term victim support and care. In fact, victim support workers, alike first responders, are systematically exposed to violence and trauma.

In response, APAV launched its Prevention of Psychosocial Risks Programme, including not only an organisational diagnosis of psychosocial risks amongst its staff and volunteers, a set of activities and advice for promotion of physical and psychologic health (meditation and mindfulness; relaxing activities for moments of stress; yoga; healthy diet, amongst others).

Present APAV’s Programme for the Prevention of Psychosocial Risks of staff and volunteers, including: the scientific tools used to develop the organisational diagnosis, the peer-support programme envisaged; tools for well-being of staff and volunteers during the SARS-COVID 19 crisis; programme of pro-bono psychologists, amongst other relevant tools and plans aimed at promoting resilience and well-being of victim support staff.

WORKSHOP B | Using the Community Resiliency Model to grow and enhance the resiliency of those who have experienced crime and their helpers

Conducted by Jolena Flett, Head of Advocacy and New Projects at Victim Support Northern Ireland

This workshop will guide people through the principles and skills of the Community Resiliency Model with a victim–centred approach.

‘As for victims of crime so it is within the organisation- creating a place of safety is key to supporting healthy behaviours that result in post-traumatic growth’. Staff and volunteers are inevitably going to be impacted by the contact they have with clients, though some will handle this better than others, particularly as not all of those interactions are going to positive.

The workshop will be interactive and will use a bespoke module for victim support organisations to introduce resiliency skills that can be used by support workers to create resiliency within themselves and those who have experienced a crime.

  • The focus is on the biology of the human nervous system.
  • There are common human reactions to stressful/traumatic events that effect the mind, body and spirit.
  • The model helps individuals learn to read their nervous system to return to their zone of well-being, called the Resilient Zone through the use of simple wellness skills
  • By understanding these processes the support worker can strengthen their own resilience and support those who have experienced crime to do the same
  • The skills can be used face to face, online or over the telephone
  • The skills help identify the strengths within communities and individuals that will contribute to resiliency and recovery
  • These skills are not an alternative to counselling and are meant for support workers who will have limited time or contact with victims of crime before referral on to other services.

The workshop aims to introduce the theory behind the skills and why they are effective to support victims of crime, as well as to introduce and practice one of the founding skills. The workshop will be interactive and has exercises for the participants to complete before the workshop.

WORKSHOP C | Victim Support Sweden's methodology of combining digital and in-person training elements

Conducted by Anders Nylén, Education Officer at Victim Support Sweden

During the last couple of years, many countries, including Sweden, implemented  social distancing policies to reduce social interactions to fight the spread of  COVID-19. Like the rest of the education system, the training of new volunteers  within Victim Support Sweden was forced to fundamentally change and in-person  training became less common as local victim support services adopted guidelines  restricting personal contact. However, the need for well-trained volunteers did  not decrease, and as local services found it increasingly difficult to provide  training during the pandemic to secure the needed amount of volunteers, Victim  Support Sweden decided to take a larger role and responsibility for training local  support service volunteers.

This workshop will present Victim Support Sweden’s efforts to digitalise part of  the basic training for our service delivery volunteers. We will discuss our  methodology of combining digital and in-person training elements, to ensure we  identify and train suitable volunteers while maintaining a high quality of support  services delivered to victims and witnesses of crime. The workshop will also  address how you as a Victim Support Organisation can use digital tools in  education, conduct online-training to proper train future volunteers, as a mean to  increase equality among the volunteer corps in these uncertain times

WORKSHOP D | Building resilience in the aftermath of emergency responses

SESSION 1 | Translating the concept of resilience into policy and emergency response after mass victimisation (the case of Belgium)

Conducted by Astrid Fortuin and An Verelst, Psychosocial Managers at the Belgian Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment

The concept and theory of resilience has informed practices and interventions after emergencies around the world. The Belgian government has adopted the resilience framework as a foundation for its psychosocial intervention plan which is an essential part of the immediate response to collective emergencies. During this workshop we will describe how S. Hobfoll’s five essential principles of post-disaster care are translated in Belgium’s preparedness planning for the support of all those affected by mass casualty events, from victims to first responders. The same framework informs Belgian’s response for first responders and is operationalized in the practical and concrete organization of a family assistance centre in case of collective emergencies.

After a presentation on how the concept of resilience is translated into concrete policy and action in Belgium, the workshop is dedicated to a practical and interactive exercise. During these this exercise, participants will be invited to translate the concept of resilience into concrete action. 

SESSION 2 | Dealing with different emergencies  and disasters, both natural and manmade, with a specific focus on how to heal and support the helper

Conducted by Lucia Formenti, Psychotherapist and Consultant at EMDR Europe

Frontline workers are among the most exposed people and are subject to extreme stress and risk of burnout. Without a specific and focused professional support, they risk psychological distress that  can lead to full-blown psychological disorders.

It is thus necessary to protect and support their mental health and wellbeing, helping them  with mental health and social support interventions, both during and after the outbreak, but  even before through the organization of specific trainings.  The ability to recognise one’s own signals of cumulative and peritraumatic stresses and to  identify coping strategies and personal resources is a great protective factor that will  enhance the resilience of all workers. Furthermore, a training on Early Psychological  Interventions will provide them with specific tools to help victims thus creating a group of  professionals with greater competence and confidence in complex scenarios.

The aim of this workshop is to share our experience in dealing with different emergencies  and disasters, both natural and manmade, with a specific focus on how to heal and support the helper.

The workshop will be divided into three parts:

  1. An introduction to Emergency Psychology starting from a general overview, deepening the  subject gradually and offering a picture of the primary early psychological interventions and disaster management techniques.
  2. Presentation of specific interventions organized by the EMDR Italian association during  the Covid-19 pandemic to support frontline workers.
  3. Short training session/role playing with participants.

WORKSHOP E | New approaches of civil society organisations in building resilience for victims of gender-based violence

Conducted by Aurela Bozo, Lawyer and the Executive Director at the Center for Legal Civic Initiatives (Albania)

The workshop will be focused on the new approaches of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Albania to reinforce resilience of victims of gender-based violence. Some of the approaches that will be presented are:

  1. Working together in network.
    Albanian civil society organisations aim to cooperate and coordinate their response to several types of initiatives, such as improving the legal framework, monitoring the implementation of legislation, advocacy, preparation of shadow reports for CEDAW (the mechanism under the frame of CEDAW Convention), GREVIO and Committee of Parties (under the frame of the Istanbul Convention), UPR, Committee of Ministers under the frame of the Council of Europe, using the recommendations of these mechanisms as real tools of power for change. CSOs have worked together and connected on several occasions now. Amongst the most significant examples are:

  2. Listening the voices of the victims of GBV to design all initiatives;
  3. Working in local level through providing expertise, strengthening the coordination of the local actors, increasing the effectiveness of the work in this level, contributing for a better budgeting of the services for the victims of gender based violence;
  4. Contributing in central level in the design of policies, such as the National Gender Equality Council;
  5. A more effective referral system of cases aiming to achieve a more effective management of GBV cases;
  6. Continuation in establishing pro bono teams with students of Law Faculty, aiming to increase the number of beneficiaries from the legal education, legal aid, etc.;
  7. Strengthening the capacities of the judges, prosecutors, police officers, coordinators of victims, etc. using the gaps and referring to the international standards;
  8. The role of the Monitoring Network Against Gender Based Violence regarding the implementation of the decisions versus Albania. The submission for the case Tershana vs Albania serves as example.

WORKSHOP ORGANISED ON DAY 2 (12 May 2022) | 14:10 - 15:40 CEST

WORKSHOP A | Breathing well(fare) - Taking care of those who care - A large-scale national resilience intervention for social services workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Conducted by Hila Shvoron, Head of the Community Resilience Department at NATAL (the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center)

The presented workshop aimed to mitigate the pathogenic effects of the covid-19 outbreak on social workers in Israels’ municipal services and to increase their personal and organizational resilience and retention. The intervention was facilitated by NATAL, the most prominent Israeli NGO for trauma and resilience care in Israel, coordinating with the ministry of social affairs from June 2021-January 2022.

The interventions were based on NATALs’ ecological approach to resilience building, mass disaster interventions (Hobfoll, 2007), and Weick & Sutcliffe’s (2015) conception of mindful organizations. Accordingly, it included preliminary meetings with department directors, followed by training programs and workshops designed jointly with each department director to meet their specific cultural characteristics and needs as identified in the screening questionnaire and consistent with the recent environmental changes.

The workshops provided participants with various approaches to sharing, narrating their experiences, and practicing strategies to enhance a sense of coherence, social capital, self- care, and personal/professional commitment management. An evaluation of the workers’ psychological adaptation following the workshops suggests high levels of satisfaction, increased implementation of adaptive coping, healthy behavioural routines and self-care strategies, and decreased levels of anxiety and depression.

In sum, the workshop will present the intervention’s theoretical basis, stages, and results from the screening questionnaire. Participants will experience first-hand tools and exercises for resilience building used in the different workshops. A short film summarizing the program will be shown.

WORKSHOP B | Building resilience in victims of crime: What works?

Conducted by Peter Crory, Head of Service at Victim Support Northern Ireland

This workshop will present a new approach recently launched by Victim Support NI which engages vulnerable victims of crime after court and supports them to build resilience so that they can get back on their feet and better cope with crises in the future.

It will share the evidence-based programme design which aims to strengthen resilience and coping skills for vulnerable victims. It will refer to the research evidence which underwrites the approach. The workshop will also explore a theory of change, key aspects of how to build resilience including: (a) locus of control, (b) aspiration and (c) self efficacy. It will further share the research on the Victims Recovery Journey completed by VSNI in 2021, in particular the Recovery Model that identifies the key factors essential to victim recovery. It will share an assets based approach to investing in a victim’s strengths and in resilience factors to aid their recovery. It will demonstrate how individual recovery plans can be tailor-made for each victim.

It will provide an ongoing opportunity beyond the conference for VSE members to engage in a learning group which will monitor and learn from progress in the area of resilience and recovery after court with a view to replicating and growing best practice on resilience and recovery across the network. Finally, the workshop will explore how to use a formal proven measure of resilience (the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale), why this is helpful and how it can be used to sustain the work.

Workshop format:

This workshop will be participative, gathering from the very start the knowledge and understanding of resilience in the audience and building with them a practical understanding of how we best support victims of crime to recover and to become more resilient. It will include input from research at Queens University Belfast into the ‘Victims Recovery Journey’ and a current piece of research on ‘Understanding Underlying Mechanisms of Resilience after Trauma’.

The intervention will involve participants engaging together in small groups as we understand and explore how we best build resilience for victims of crime. This will include real case study examples of victims of crime. It will use real case examples of individual victims of crime growing and strengthening their resilience. It will conclude with a Q&A session to respond to questions and issues emerging from the workshop.

What will participants gain from this workshop?

  • A very practical understanding of what works in building resilience for victims of crime
  • A broad understanding of a model of working with victims after court that can be picked up and replicated by others
  • A wider sense of the experience and good practice of other workshop participants
  • The opportunity to continue the learning journey by becoming part of a VSE learning group

WORKSHOP C | Resilience in the digital age: Understanding design, delivery and the universality of victim’s  rights

Conducted by Jeffrey DeMarco, Assistant Director, Knowledge & Insight at Victim Support England and Wales

The workshop aims to combine practice, policy and design in the provision of support for  victims. Victim services, along with many other third sector organisations, have had to  change the manner they support victims and survivors of crime because of the Covid-19  global pandemic. This workshop aims to balance policy development and knowledge  exchange with live demonstrations of the work we carry out with specific victims and  survivors of crime.

The first session would explore our organisations recent public consultation response to the  Victim’s Bill in England and Wales. The importance of third sector staff and victim’s voices in informing policy that will ultimately influence their experience will be tackled, and how the  disconnect between policy development may lead to negative outcomes for victims and staff  is discussed. Attendees will be urged to share their own experience of the Victim’s Rights  Directive with overlaps and distinctiveness drawn between the UK experiment and our  European peers.

The workshop will move to a presentation of our complex ‘Beyond Crime’ initiative, where for  several years, we have been creating a service that aims to achieve the outcomes important  for victim’s to move on with their lives. This has included embedding victim and expert voices within our internal processes, materials and training to ensure that what we offer is fit for  purpose for those we assist. Theory of change and logic models will be shared with  attendees, illustrating how our staff and service users perceive the causal chain of  victimisation to restoration.

The final two speakers will provide live demonstrations of support resources offered to  victims and survivors of crime:

  • Given the proclivity of domestic abuse, safe and easily accessible means for  survivors everywhere are critical. Victim Support’s online iMatter programme has  been designed for women aged 16 and over who have been, or are currently, victims  of domestic abuse. The programme is delivered online, by Zoom, across 10 weeks in  groups of up to 12 women. Sessions are facilitated by two specially-trained Victim  Support staff members. Each session lasts approximately 90 minutes. The programme looks at the importance of self-worth, self-care and mindfulness. It also  has led to the creation of a survivor’s forum, in which we propose, with their  permission, to invite for a 5-10 minute slot to engage with the workshop facilitators.
  • Witnessing or surviving an act of terror transgresses geopolitical boundaries. It is  important that regardless of your nationality, you have access to support that helps  you recover from these devastating events. My Support Space is a free and secure  online resource from Victim Support. It contains interactive guides that you can work  through in your own time and at your own pace. This session will involve our  Terrorism lead bring attendees through the different components and modules of this  resource.

WORKSHOP D | Building resilience in child victims of violence

Conducted by Cláudia Rocha, Victim Support Officer at APAV

The social transformation suffered by family structures have imposed enormous challenges to contemporary victimology. Given the greater likelihood of children being at risk of harmful impact when exposed to violence within the family (e.g. domestic violence), it is of crucial importance that victimology may further invest in research applied to intervention with this particularly vulnerable group of victims. The COVID 19 pandemic has greatly amplified the vulnerability of children due to long lockdown periods and continuous exposure to victimisation, either as direct or indirect victims.

We believe that intervention with children shall dwell on promoting protective factors that allow them to increase their own resilience and mitigate risk factors, improving well-being and positive longer term outcomes, highlighting the importance of working at multiple levels to increase individual strategies.  In this sense, we understand that victim support organisations have a great role as a protective factor, establishing themselves as a positive community environment.

In this workshop participants will have the opportunity to learn about how APAV deal with these challenges, through several intervention levels (assess existing direct services, collaborate with other community organisations), whilst emphasizing how do we work the relationship between children and the justice system.

At APAV we have different ways of working on resilience strategies with children who are victims of domestic violence, from psychological support to accompaniment of minors in all the criminal proceedings in which they are involved. This workshop will share our experience and tools used, in particular in the two victim support offices that APAV has in two investigation and prosecution departments.

WORKSHOP E | Triple R programme: a trauma informed domestic abuse programme

Conducted by Charlotte Portelli, Project Manager at Victim Support Malta

The workshop will present the Triple R programme, an educational course that includes a trauma informed domestic abuse programme. It has three main aims, namely:

  1. To enable victims/survivors to recognise the abuse and its impacts on them and their children.
  2. To enable them to recover from the abuse and support their children to do so.
  3. To develop resilience by building on their strengths and addressing challenges in order to build a better sustainable safe future for themselves and their families.

The Triple R programme has four modules (recognition, recovery, children and resilience) and is usually carried out weekly over 12 sessions. For the purpose of this workshop, a mini training will be conducted, covering all of the four modules. This will include presentations, videos and activities for the participants to do.

Feedback on the Victim Support Malta pilot training and the second training programme carried out so far have been promising. One participants explains: “I feel so much stronger, braver and that I am starting to re-find myself again. I feel like I am gaining control over my life a little at a time. There has been weeks where the only thing that has got me through it knowing I had Triple R. Thanks to Triple R I feel like I am starting to get back to who I used to be before my abusive relationship”