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Workshop: Faith-sensitive psychosocial support: What does it mean in practice?

Many people have a strong faith or religious identity. When disaster strikes and they have to leave their homes, they don’t leave their faith behind. It stays with them in their efforts to flee and to rebuild their lives.

The humanitarian community has been relatively silent on how to respond to this. Political and religious impartiality can make it difficult to talk about faith and religion.

At the moment there is a shift in the way the humanitarian response views religion and faith. There is a growing recognition of the importance of addressing it more seriously.

Psychosocial support is the first point for engaging with this question. But it also brings a confusion of questions.

How do you respond to a person who has experienced something that conflicts with their faith? Or that brings their belief systems into question? And what about helping people find psychosocial well-being through faith? Does funding such activities contravene humanitarian norms? How can you involve religious communities or actors in providing support – which ones are acceptable? Can we make a top 10 ‘rules of thumb’ for stressed humanitarians trying to make sense of the whole religious spectrum? And can we do it in a way which doesn’t end being a minefield?

Workshop: Faith-sensitive psychosocial support programming”

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) lead and initiative to create guidelines for faith sensitive psychosocial programming in emergencies. The approach to this is intentionally non-partisan.

Active participants and advisors to the project include UNHCR, IFRC, World Vision, Church of Sweden, HIAS, among others. The project has been welcomed by the IASC reference group on MHPSS.

The core of the work is “faith-sensitive humanitarian response. It doesn’t aim to promote “faith-based” approach. It is a way of addressing the reality of people’s faith identity and of faith communities in the humanitarian context. It examines both the benefits and risks in relation to faith practices and beliefs. The work is intended to be relevant to all humanitarian actors, not just faith-based ones.

On 17 November 2017, the PS Centre hosts a workshop about the new guidelines for “Faith Sensitive Programming”. The workshop is facilitated by Michael French from LWF.

The workshop takes place in Copenhagen on 17 November 2017 from 9 am to 5 pm.

The workshop is in English.

For questions, please contact

Deadline for signing up is 1 October 2017 provided there are available spaces.

Send an email to to sign up with the following information: Name, organization, position and a short paragraph on what you wish to get out from the workshop.

Target group and required qualifications

Participants may come from a variety of backgrounds in the broad area of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, Red Cross Red Crescent, NGO or INGO.

The organizers are not able to provide financial support to travel, accommodation or other expenses related to the workshop. The workshop is free of charge and lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Check here to see if you require a visa to Denmark:

Please note that the PS Centre is not able to assist with visa applications.

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