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Safe In Our World Launches Crisis Hub

We have launched our new Crisis Hub, aimed at offering more targeted resources and support to those affected by crisis.

We want to make it as easy as we can to signpost people to useful resources, charities, and even games that we think could be of use during this turbulent time. Click to visit any of the resources below. We’ll be continuing to grow the content within the hub to provide as much support for those in need as possible.

How to support yourself and others who are indirectly affected by conflict

Verifying information and limiting news time

Charities supporting those affected by war

Safe in your virtual world: using video games as a healthy break from the news

Dealing with grief – advice and video games that explore themes of grief

How to talk to children during crisis

Crisis Support Lines for those dealing with war

Recognising PTSD

and PTSD Awareness – how to support yourself and others, information and signs

We’re incredibly grateful to Embracer, Koch Media and Form for supporting the creation of the Hub

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

Crisis Support Lines for people struggling with war

The events in Ukraine are deeply saddening and distressing. If you are currently in Ukraine, or know someone who is, please make sure they are aware of the following contact details for support around the clock.

 

Emergency Services

Call: 112

112 is the universal emergency number in all 27 EU member states, as well as other European countries. This number can be accessed by landline or mobile to reach the fire brigade, medical assistance and/or the police.

 

Lifeline Ukraine

Call: 7333

Website: https://lifelineukraine.com/

While originally established as a mental health support line for Ukraine Armed Forces veterans, Lifeline Ukraine is offering help to anyone in the country who needs it right now.

The Red Cross

The Ukrainian Red Cross Society

Call: 0800 331 800

Website: https://redcross.org.ua/

The Ukrainian Red Cross Society can be contacted from anywhere within the country for on-the-ground assistance – including, but not limited to: medical items, shelter material and essential deliveries.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC is working to deliver urgent medical items to Kyiv hospitals, as well as food, water, and other essential items to the areas affected most. The ICRC can be contacted in the following locations 24/7.

 

Kyiv: 0800 300 155

Slavyansk: 0800 300 115

Severodonetsk: 0800 300 125

Mariupol: 0800 300 165

Donetsk: 0800 300 185

Luhansk: 0800 300 195

 

Migration Support

Safety advice for those leaving Ukraine is provided by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with hotlines available for a number of countries listed on the IOM website here.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provides additional safety advice for those remaining in Ukraine and for those leaving – linked above and here.

 

Parental support for children

The Global Protection Cluster provides a help sheet for supporting children during bombing here.

 

Guidance and resources UK

The following resources can be access via the UK government website:

 

* (or call 0808 164 8810 free 24/7 from anywhere in the UK)

** 24-hour consular assistance helpline: +380 44 490 3660 (from Ukraine), +44 (0)1908 516666 (from the UK)

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

How to talk to children during a crisis

It can be hard enough to get your own head around an ongoing crisis situation, let alone explaining it to an inquisitive child. Here are some useful pointers to help get the conversation started…

Children are naturally curious and inquisitive, and that means that during a crisis they’re bound to have a lot of questions. Of course, they may also have their own fears and concerns, both for themselves and for those directly involved, and so talking to children and answering their questions can feel like an intimidating prospect.

Photo by World Vision – WV Romania staff members Nicoleta Popa and Alberto Roca with Ukrainians on the border with Romania called Vama siret.

To help put everyone’s mind at ease, the likes of Save the Children and the British Red Cross have put together some useful guides on talking with children, with the latter hosting a wealth of great educational resources to help learners discuss and understand a range of related issues and situations. Here are some of the key elements you might want to consider to help make the conversation go a little smoother and hopefully be more rewarding for all involved!

Be Impartial

Conflicts and other crisis scenarios can be a difficult and emotive topic that can impact on people in different ways, especially with children. Before you start the conversation, it can help to try and evaluate your own feelings or possible biases on the subject. It’s not too unlike our article looking at verifying news information, only here you’re the source, so try to make sure you’re dealing with facts and not allowing your own emotions to influence the discussion.

Not that you should ‘turn off’ your feelings entirely; just try to appreciate that children may interpret the situation in a slightly different way. Remember, your aim is simply to get them to better understand or process the events to help put their minds at ease, and this needn’t be aligned with your own opinions. Among the seven key principles the Red Cross Movement follows are neutrality, impartiality and humanity, and applying those to a crisis situation is a good foundation for any discussion.

Photo by Igor Shokha & Photo Shokha Studio: Children take part in art therapy at one of the safe places set up by CAFOD partner Caritas Ukraine in Boryslav

Prepare What to Say

The British Red Cross offers a checklist of questions to ask yourself before addressing a classroom: What do your learners want to talk about? How are your learners feeling? What can you do to help your learners? What could learners learn about? Even if you’re dealing with a single child, it’s worth considering these questions to help you frame the conversation you may have.

 

Create a Supportive Environment

It’s important to remember that children can have personal connections to an ongoing crisis, which can extend into other issues such as race, migration and national/cultural tensions, so be sure to accept and empathise with any concerns they may express. It can also be important for your impartiality to extend into not simply painting one side as the ‘bad guy’ and de-humanising those involved, as that may help fuel a ‘monster’ that could add to the child’s fears.

Photo by World Vision – Movement of Ukrainians on the border with Romania called Vama Siret.

Answering Questions

An all-important part but arguably the trickiest one. The first step is to positively acknowledge each question, even if you don’t fully know the answer. It can encourage children to be confident enough to ask questions and opens up scope for a discussion from both sides. It’s perfectly okay not to know all the answers. Be honest about your own understanding and knowledge of events and if you don’t have the answer perhaps you can team up together for a little research to help you both make things a little bit clearer!

Be Clear and Concise

Children are great at asking lots of questions, so try to keep your answers direct and to the point. Don’t elaborate too far on an issue if the child doesn’t ask you to and try to remember to keep your impartiality intact, responding more with factual information than your own personal viewpoints.

Photo by Save the Children: All children received toys. Water, juices, hygiene kits, face masks, perishable foods, kits for newborns (pampers, wet napkins) are available for every single family that crosses the border. We are also offering flyers that contain necessary information.

Take Their Fears Seriously

This may sound obvious but, as mentioned, children can interpret and analyse events in different ways to adults. They may not agree with everything you say, or have some strong opinions of their own that might not align with your own feelings, so try to be understanding of their views, ideas and worries, and not force your own upon them.

 

Offer Them Hope

This may be easier said than done, but you want to help make the child feel reassured about the situation. Explain how it’s adults who have the responsibility to find solutions and that are many very good people working on doing just that right now. There can be a sense of powerless in these situations that may be a source of anxiety, so you might want to suggest ways that they can also get involved to help those it does impact.

This could involve supporting fundraising events in the local area or even just making a small donation to a related charity to let them know that they can make a difference. Similarly, encourage them to learn more about the crisis and show their support to those directly impacted by it, as kindness and compassion can also be very welcome commodities to share as part of any relief response.

Photo by World Vision – Romanian firefighters helping Ukrainians on the border with Romania called Vama siret

Take a Break

Similar to how we’d recommend taking a break from the ongoing news cycle to give your mind a breather, you don’t have to squeeze in a full discussion about something like Covid or Ukraine in a single sitting. Feel free to let the conversation drift into something completely different to give you both time to process the difficult topics and perhaps let something fun lighten the mood. You don’t want to force the conversation, so let the child lead if and when they want to revert back to more serious issues.

 

Fake News

As discussed in our article on verifying information, there can be a lot of misinformation, particularly on social media, spread during a crisis and children will as vulnerable to it as most. Explain to them that false, or at best misleading, information can be appearing on their platform of choice and that they should ask you (or another adult) if they’re unsure if something is true or not. As with the confidence to ask questions, being able to understand that not everything they read may be strictly true is an important step in helping them to process their day-to-day interactions with the evolving events.

 

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

PTSD Awareness – how to support yourself and others, information and signs

After over two years of a still ongoing global pandemic, the events in Ukraine are a lot to take in, to process and to understand.

Feeling overwhelmed is a perfectly normal response to what we are seeing unfold in Eastern Europe – be that on the ground, or from a far on television and via social media – as is experiencing a range of emotions, not least frustration, sadness, helplessness and anger.

Those prone to depression or who have experienced trauma may find themselves struggling more than they otherwise might in less fraught circumstances, and while something like PTSD can take many different forms, being aware of what to look out for, and, crucially, where to turn for help is important.

PTSD is estimated to affect around one in every three people who have experienced traumatic events, and, while it can develop immediately after the experience, it can also occur weeks, months and sometimes even years later. Again, PTSD can manifest in many different ways, and can present physical, mental and emotional difficulties – with everything from trouble sleeping to unwanted memories, nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks among the most common challenges.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is considered one of the most effective ways to treat PTSD, but there are a number of practical, shorter-term suggestions that can help you and/or those around you when suffering from an episode or flashback.

 

What you can do

 

Breathe

It sounds simple, but focusing on your breathing is a great way of reducing stress and feelings of panic. Try taking a deep breath, counting to five, and exhaling.

Get comfortable

Comfortable surroundings can help us relax. If that’s pouring yourself a hot drink, wrapping up in a duvet blanket, or running yourself a nice hot bath, being able to switch off from the real world and focus on yourself is key.

Allow yourself to be distracted

If possible, a long walk, run or other fitness activity is a great way of clearing the mind. If that’s not your thing, settling in with a good book, movie, television show or video game might work better. Johnny Chiodini’s Low Batteries series (published on Eurogamer back in 2015) takes a wholesome and thoughtful look at video games and mental health, with this episode specifically exploring how PTSD is handled in games.

If you’re simply looking for relaxing games to preoccupy your mind, this best relaxing games list from GamesRadar includes everything from Journey to Dreams, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Abzu, Stardew Valley and much more.

Stay connected

Stay connected by spending time with the people who give you a sense of security, calmness and happiness, or those who best understand what you are feeling. Whether this is face-to-face or remotely via social media, instant messaging or online video games isn’t important – making connections and maintaining a sense of togetherness is. It’s worth noting that while social media can be a great way to achieve connectedness, if media exposure is impacting your wellbeing, limiting your screen time is equally important.

What friends and family can do

 

Listen

Listening isn’t just about making time for someone, it’s also about allowing them to be upset without judgement or pressure. Simply be there for someone without question.

Identify warning signs and learn triggers 

PTSD is so idiosyncratic, which makes understanding and identifying warning signs and learning triggers especially important – for both the person with PTSD and you. Are there conversations or surroundings that tend to trigger flashbacks? Being able to avoid these can be vital, and if that’s impossible, being able to prepare for them is just as important.

Respect personal space

While being able to listen is crucial, so too is respecting the space of someone who experiences PTSD. Always ask permission if you plan to touch the person, be sure not overcrowd and do what you can to avoid startling them.

Write a crisis plan

Crisis plans can help with all of the above. Mental health charity Mind has some great, easy to follow step-by-step crisis plan advice.

Skills utilised:
Crisis Hub

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