July 25

An outing to…the 1st floor dining area!

We recently had an away day for the Humanitarian department at Save the Children UK. Kathryn, who’s working a few tube stops away from me, went out and about around London for 3 days for her away day (here). I went up two flights of stairs for an afternoon for mine!

But the afternoon was in no way hampered by the location. The aim of the meeting was twofold – to focus on staff wellbeing, resilience and energy, and to answer any burning questions which weren’t typically addressed through more formal settings.

We started with a session on Mindfulness. I have attended a couple of these in the past but never before by a sceptic-turned-teacher. She was refreshingly down to earth (think ‘yeah, yeah, this is the bit where you roll your eyes…’) but nevertheless managed to get us all joining in, and even gave us some great tips on how to employ Mindfulness in meetings, without having to close our eyes or nod off (the usual result when I try Mindfulness!). I’ll definitely be testing out those techniques.

The more serious part of the afternoon was the staff / management Q&A, somewhat less seriously called the FUQs (Frequently Unanswered Questions) session. Then it was back to having fun. We’d all been assiduously, albeit confusedly, collecting toilet roll inners, empty yoghurt pots and general junk for weeks, and finally found out what it was all for. We took part in a ’HEART’ (Healing and Education through the ARTs) activity. This is an arts-based psychosocial support program founded on the healing principles of art and developed by Save the Children US specifically to be useable in situations where skilled trainers and materials aren’t readily available. It is used with children who have experienced extreme or chronic stress due to traumas such as conflict, violence, natural disasters, displacement, and loss. Through drawing, making and creating, children can begin to express and then process their emotions in a safe place with a trusted adult, and start on the road to recovery.

HEART activity 1

We spent the rest of the afternoon in teams creating our own Utopian refugee camps out of our recycled materials, just as a child might do, and came up with many a chocolate tree, a lift to the moon, swings, dancefloors… Only one group remembered to include a toilet.

Finally it was off to the local park for Pimm’s and cake. Wellbeing objective – tick!