Support for Social Service Professionals in Times of Crisis: Practices and Tools Used by Members of the European Social Network (ESN)

Managing social services in times of crisis is a complex and challenging task; this is particularly true during wartime. Wars often entail the destruction of infrastructure and resources, the need to evacuate civilians away from danger areas, physical and emotional harm to both civilians and soldiers, and a disruption of daily routines, hence creating intensified humanitarian needs. At the same time, the capacity to deliver services is compromised due to the depletion of professional personnel, stemming from conscription, direct or indirect war-related effects, and/or involvement in ongoing care for vulnerable populations on the home front (such as older adults, little children, and persons with disabilities).

In recent years there has been growing awareness of the need to provide comprehensive professional support for professionals, including social workers, medical and teaching staff, who deliver services during wartime and other emergencies. This has two main goals: (1) To provide personal support for professionals as individuals exposed to severe events, whether directly by being present on-site or indirectly by providing services to victims; (2) To guide the professionals on how to provide optimal service to those directly affected by the crisis.

To get a better understanding of professional support for professionals, on the very first days of the Israel-Hamas War, the Quality Assurance Team of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute contacted the European Social Network (ESN), asking for their assistance in gathering information from various countries about practices and tools for supporting social workers in times of crisis –  based on their experience with two recent crises: COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine. The information was gathered from ESN members in the UK (England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland), Poland, Romania, and Spain in October-November 2023, and is summarized in this document.

For MJB’s publications on Israel-Hamas War in English, press here.

For MJB’s publications on Israel-Hamas War in Hebrew, press here.