Bouncing forward - resilience and managing wellbeing

Friday, 22 November 2019 - 1:03pm

Stephanie Hill, Homeless Link Associate trainer and consultant, shares her personal journey of recovery following the traumatic events experienced as a result of the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004.

The term 'resilience' has become one of the popular buzzwords within the homelessness sector. It is historically associated with the term to ‘bounce-back’, because of its roots in physical science; in which it referred to the ability of a material to return to its original shape once stretched

However, we now recognise that as human beings, it is impossible to ‘bounce-back’ to the person we ‘were’, we are constantly in a state of change. It makes far more sense to look at resilience in people from the perspective of our ability to cope and adapt – our ‘bounce-forward-ability’.

For Homeless Link associate Stephanie Hill, ‘resilience’ has been somewhat of an obsession over the past thirteen years.

In 2004, she was a Psychology graduate, teaching and backpacking across South East Asia, when the Boxing Day Tsunami hit, leaving her with life-threatening injuries and killing her partner.

Suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Steph was offered medication and an 18-month waiting list for counselling when she approached her GP for help on return to the UK. Not wishing to settle for either option, she decided to take charge of her own recovery and embark on a journey which built on her existing knowledge of psychology, with tools and techniques from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Positive Psychology.

Since recovering from PTSD, Steph's career has enabled her to further explore ‘resilience’ from different perspectives, whilst working across the international development and health and social care sectors, including charities, local government and United Nations organisations. 

Frontline workers and Vicarious Trauma

In 2018 the UK Government released a report stating that approximately 526,000 people had taken time off in the previous year due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety; this led to an estimated 12.5 million working days being lost. The highest number of workers reporting work-related stress came from the health and social care and public sectors.

Staff working in caring professions often face a complex mix of stress factors. Firstly there are shrinking budgets versus increasing demand for services, leading to staff managing large and challenging workloads.

Staff are also frequently exposed to the details of service users’ experiences of trauma, which can have a profound impact on one’s emotional wellbeing, and sometimes lead to staff suffering with vicarious/secondary trauma.

Organisations have a duty of care to support staff with building resilience to these factors that threaten their well-being, and nurture a healthy team culture.

New course developed by Homeless Link

Steph has joined forces with Homeless Link to develop a two-day course designed for frontline workers and managers within homelessness and supported housing settings – Stress, Vicarious Trauma and managing wellbeing.

This course aims to develop emotional resilience amongst staff by exploring stress, compassion fatigue, burn-out and vicarious trauma, and develop strategies and techniques for managing self-care and emotional wellbeing.

We offer this course on our public and in-house programmes, and carry other courses which support emotional wellbeing and resilience, including Reflective Practice and Resilience, and Reflective Practice for Managers.

There are also two supporting webinars that complement this programme: ‘Using effective time management to balance priorities and manage wellbeing’, developed and delivered by Homeless Link Associate trainer and consultant Colin Dyson; and ‘Five Elements of emotional wellbeing’, developed by Steph. Both webinars will take place in December 2019.

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Stephanie Hill

Homeless Link Associate

Stephanie has over 15 years' experience in learning and development; internationally in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), international development, and humanitarian sectors, and in the UK in the housing and health and social care sectors.