On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale re-invasion of Ukraine. We were both impacted by this tragedy in very personal ways. Aga lives in the UK but her home town is Slupsk in Poland, where refugees had begun arriving by the hundreds. Jessica is from the UK but up until February 2022 had been living in Kyiv, Ukraine where her spouse worked at an international school.
Jessica was supporting those from her community who remained in Ukraine, and those who had just left; as well as those who wanted to leave and needed routes to safety and homes. Aga was receiving daily calls for help and advice from her friends and colleagues in Poland who were beginning to experience overwhelm due to the sudden influx of refugees. Since February 24 more than 5.4 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed the Polish border, with the largest number on March 6 – more than 142 thousand people.
When we came together we began my matching the intent and content of the support sessions that Jessica had been delivering to the needs coming from the refugee’s host communities in Poland. What we wanted to do was to offer potential solutions to the help, advice and support that was being asked for, in the form of training and interventions that would share information, support and resources to the refugee communities and those who were serving them.
We have named the initiative that has evolved, ‘Support for Slupsk’. The project has now delivered training to more than 600 people working for the services of the town of Slupsk, Poland who are coming into direct contact with the new Ukrainian refugee population. The training has involved participants learning tapping and somatic trauma relief tools, the neurobiology of how they work, and the confidence and skills to use and share this knowledge and tools as they move through this challenging time.
Our aim was to support and resource these service providers so they could better support the refugees they are serving. By following this model we have increased a thousandfold the number of people now able to benefit from these easy to learn, simple to apply self-regulation tools. We are now creating and delivering stabilising therapeutic experiences, using tapping tools in creative and age-appropriate ways, for the 500 children and their carers of three Ukrainian orphanages that have been relocated to Slupsk.
The aim throughout has been to encourage non-dependence by focusing on growing knowledgeable and empowered networks who will continue the post-traumatic growth process with self-belief, confidence, and hope post-intervention.