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Open programme: Peer supporter training for activists and advocates

Courageous people and communities around the world are fighting to make rights and justice universally possible. But they face attacks and reprisals from powerful vested interests. The constant threat of physical, digital or psychological harm places advocates and activists at great risk of burnout, stress, and trauma. The impacts transcend our work, rippling out to create fear and anxiety in our daily lives, for our families, and within our communities.

Against this backdrop, the laudable but unsustainable culture of self sacrifice within environmental and social movements must be addressed. We can start to view acts of personal resilience as acts of resistance!

Peers supporters (sometimes known as wellbeing focal points) can play an important role in encouraging this shift. They are team members trained to take on an informal role for the welfare of their co-workers in addition to their usual responsibilities. They provide an empathetic and confidential environment where colleagues can talk about stress or personal circumstances that are impacting their wellbeing.

Open Briefing has been delivering peer supporter training and helping organisations set up their peer support programmes for some years. But some organisations cannot resource a full programme, and we also want to support movements and grassroots organisations. So we are launching an open programme for peer supporter training for 2024.

This remote programme will support any staff member or activist who is interested in acting as a peer supporter within their organisation or movement. Over two months, participants will be supported to champion wellbeing and resilience within their workplace or campaign and support colleagues who are in emotional distress.

This programme is open to representatives from foundations, nonprofits, and grassroots groups and movements agitating and advocating for rights and justice.

Want to be a peer supporter? Find out more in our free webinar

To introduce our new open training programme, we are running a free webinar on 7 December 2023 from 15:00 to 16:00 UTC, hosted by our director of wellbeing and resilience, Camille Gallie.

Liz Pycroft, one of our counsellors and trainers, will introduce the concept of peer supporters, provide an overview of the forthcoming training programme, and discuss how having a peer supporter within your organisation or movement can help champion a culture that values wellbeing and resilience.

Rachel VanNice, director of finance, people, and operations at Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, will also share her experiences of implementing a peer supporter programme within a multicultural nonprofit and global community at a time of rapidly-changing local contexts. She will also dive into the challenges and benefits of having peer supporters in place when working across cultures and communities.

All are welcome. Participation is free, but please make sure to save your space by registering in advance. A confirmation email will follow registration with the call-in details.

Our exciting new programme

Open Briefing will train the first cohort of peer supporters in our new open programme starting on 12 February 2024 and running for two months.

Our trainers will combine facilitated discussions, role plays, presentations, self-reflection, and experiential learning to help participants develop the skills and competencies they need to:

  • Champion a culture that values wellbeing and resilience.
  • Provide an empathetic and confidential environment which supports peers and colleagues to talk about stressors they face in the workplace and in their campaigns.
  • Provide support and information on basic stress reactions and positive coping strategies to individual colleagues in distress.
  • Provide Psychological First Aid following a security incident or traumatic event.
  • To know when and how to signpost staff to other sources of organisational, professional, psychological, or medical support.

The training will be trauma informed and will focus on de-stigmatising poor mental health and emphasising the cultural aspects of stress and self-care. All sessions will be delivered remotely and in English.

The programme will be delivered over seven 90-minute online sessions starting on 12 February 2024. These will take place every Wednesday and Friday for four weeks. We will then provide each participant with a one-hour one-to-one session to help them prepare for the assessment. The assessment will consist of the participants delivering a 20-minute presentation to the training team on a wellbeing topic of their choice and discussing their reflective journal (up to 4 pages).

Successful participants will receive a certificate of accomplishment from Open Briefing at the end of the programme.

Training fees

Fees for the training and assessment will be set shortly. These will be tiered according to your organisation’s budget, with higher-tier fees making it possible for individual activists and advocates to attend at a reduced rate. Training fees will also allow Open Briefing to sponsor participants from grassroots movements and community organisations who may otherwise lack the resources to invest in this vital training.

If you would like more information about this open training cohort or our closed programmes for organisations, please contact our director of wellbeing and resilience, Camille Gallie, at [email protected].

Open Briefing is a certified social enterprise and a member of
the CIVICUS global civil society alliance and the Vuka! coalition