Episode four of the Fighting Back podcast was released this week, focusing on approaches to protecting the wellbeing of staff during a year of unprecedented challenges.

Representatives from four Fight for Peace Alliance member organisations from across the UK contributed to the episode by sharing their thoughts and experiences on how they have sought to support their team of staff since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This episode’s topic was provoked by a profound question raised in a previous edition of Fighting Back – how long can a strong mind keep another mind strong?

“Although we are focused on young people, we are still humans as well and our staff team still needs support if they are going to be working with really vulnerable young people”, explained one of the podcast guests. They went on to outline how regular group discussions had provided a platform for staff at their organisation to talk about their relationships with young people, as well as their relationships at home with family.

The impact of not being in the same physical space as colleagues and young people was highlighted as being a profound challenge currently, with solidarity and encouragement among team members and continued regular virtual team meetings cited as key ways to mitigate the effects of isolation. “Team meetings are a place where we get to uplift each other and get to celebrate things and build the relationships that we need,” explained one of the contributors.

Head of Operations, Valeria Tavares shared Fight for Peace’s strategy for protecting the wellbeing of staff which includes an employee assistance programme offering widespread support and counselling, and ensuring staff have the equipment they need to work and guidance for maintaining a healthy work-life balance at home. Mindfulness sessions, mental health training and a staff survey aimed at better understanding how events were impacting team members personally and professionally were also rolled out as part of this strategy.

“I think the most important thing I learned in this pandemic was the importance of having open and honest conversations, not making assumptions about what someone is going through but asking the question and being there and really listening and acting on it as much as possible,” said Valeria.

The entire Fighting Back podcast series, including the latest episode, is available to listen to on several hosting platforms and can be accessed here.

As always, thank you to all of the Fight for Peace Alliance member organisations and representatives who participated in this episode – Vulcan Learning Centre, Gloves not Gunz CIC, Switch Up CIC, Sheffield City Boxing Club and Fight for Peace. Also continued thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund and Sport England for their support of this initiative.

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