Rescue-service aftercare “Peers” and voluntary work “Hand-in-Hand” in Bozen

At the Second International Grundtvig-Meeting the projects „Peers“ and „Hand in Hand“ had been identified as Best-Practice-Examples due to the care, recognition and qualification of the volunteers. “Peers” is a project and “Hand-in-Hand” is a strategically instrument of voluntary work.

The Peers-Project implies a rescue service aftercare for task forces with the particularity that experienced colleagues undertake the aftercare on an informal basis and liaise as contact persons. Peers are people in rescue organizations with many years of service experience and a special education, but deliberately no therapists or psychologists in order to lower the inhibition threshold of the task forces to turn to their Peers. The peers are the first contact persons after rescue operations and give support to process the experiences, to relieve operation related stress and regain the ability to act. Of course they can, if necessary, refer to trained professionals – psychologists, therapists, etc. The aim of the peer-project is to support colleagues, to avoid trauma and listen as colleagues to the concerns of the rescuers. Especially in the categories of sustainability, quality, relevance and impact this project was evaluated very well. Especially in the fields of rescue services a good support of the rescue workers and a rescue operation aftercare are necessary in order to jointly handle the incidents and seen. The voluntary Peers do an excellent job and can normally reduce stress-related trauma and mental stress.

The second Best-Practice example is the „Hand in Hand“ project. „Hand in Hand“ is a management tool respectively a development and strategy tool for full-time and volunteer staff at the White Cross. To enable an optimal interaction between the 360 employees and 2600 volunteers, qualification and training modules, a performance concept, and communication activities have been implemented, as well as accompanying management tools. Thereby performance, quality, motivation and leadership play a special role. In the first phase, an inventory was recorded, in the second phase of the project the results from the first phase had been implemented. The “Hand-in-Hand” instrument has achieved very good evaluation in the categories of innovation and transferability.

The interaction of full-time staff and volunteers plays in all participating project organizations a very important role and turned out as a huge challenge likewise – herein “Hand-in-Hand” can be useful as an educational model as well as a process model to meet this challenge.

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