Responses to Covid-19 situation by some of our partners
The new situation associated with covid 19 also brought new ways of working. Below you can read some responses from some of our partners who work with different target groups. Hope you find it interesting.
It was hard work to change owns working methods and timing in such a short time. The COVID emergency has hit our country and our health system hard, but we have been able to deal with it by adapting our services to the situation and the hygiene standards. Digital tools represented a fundamental element to support a part of the activities. Our sense of solidarity and the professionality of our staff have certainly represented the fundamental building blocks for the safe recovery of activities and life.
In general, the tasks at the time of Covid- included psychological support through phone calls, online meetings with Partners and Colleagues, emails, phone calls, reports, remote working (2 days a week), administrative issues.
The work in the field of prevention was mainly focused on (1) coordination of the European ASAP-Training Project, (2) Local Peer education project: Youngle-is which is a Regional Prevention project that addresses gambling behaviours and (3) phone consultations for teachers, parents, students.
The challenging part of the Covid-19 crisis was life and work uncertainty and unpredictability. The crisis has increased the need for flexible working patterns such as remote collaboration betxqween project team members, but also a deeper sense of interpersonal compassion. Although remote meetings differ from face-to-face conversations, we have established a routine on digital platforms to successfully accomplish each project demand/task
New challenges, new ways of connecting and staying together in the Greek prevention system
The COVID-19 pandemic has been uncharted waters for the entire global community. In Greece, in the field of prevention, the network of the 75 Prevention Centres established throughout Greece has shown that during challenging times, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to stay connected with their communities. Prevention practitioners used technology as an alternative way to communicate. Face-to-face communication remains irreplaceable in prevention; however, technology proved a useful tool to connect and stay together.
An important development that took place is the adaptation of the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards in the Greek prevention system. In specific, UMHRI/Greek REITOX Focal Point of the EMCDDA in cooperation with OKANA (Organisation Against Drugs) implemented four training workshops for the local coordinators of the 75 Prevention Centres across the country. In specific, four cycles of a three-days workshop on EDPQS were implemented with the participation of all the coordinators of the 75 Prevention Centres. While the first three-days workshop was implemented in a face-to-face meeting (February 24-26), the rest three were implemented online (July 14-16, 21-23 and 28-30). One-day follow-up meeting are planned to be implemented online in September.
The adaptation of EDPQS in the Greek prevention system is considered to be an important step in promoting quality in prevention, while ASAP-training will further build on a sustainable and effective prevention system in Greece.
Partners from Estonia have shared their experiences with implementing two interventions during COVID crisis in Estonia – PAX GBG that is implemented in elementary schools and Incredible Years parent training programme.
Incredible Years: “When Covid-related restrictions started, we had 56 Incredible Years parenting groups running all over Estonia. 43 of these continued their work remotely and communities, group leaders as well as parents adapted well with the situation. It was apparent that parents needed more support than ever, and new solutions were developed quickly. Keys for success were flexibility, courage to try new things and asking feedback from parents, group leaders and local municipalities. The groups who did not use e-tools are continuing with their groups during summer.”
PAX GBG: “There were more challenges related with implementation of school-based interventions during Covid-related restrictions. During 2019/2020 school year National Institute for Health Development supported more than 100 schools who implemented PAX GBG. When schools closed, about 77% of teachers continued to use some elements from PAX GBG via e-learning, for example PAX Stix to increase participation, PAX Tootle Notes to express appreciation and timer to increase time engaged in learning. More than half of the teachers continued communicating with PAX GBG mentors during restrictions and discussed the use of PAX GBG during distance learning, but also issues related to their own coping. Our small prevention team in NIHD struggled also during the spring time, but these experiences helped us grow our skills in empathy and caring. Being able to talk to each other and share the responsibilities got us through the difficult times. When one felt overwhelmed and tired, the other took over and this way we ping-ponged through all personal and work-related obstacles.”
Prevention and advocacy challenges during the COVID-19 crisis in Slovenia
Slovenia is currently controlling the situation regarding the new coronavirus rather well (with some ups and downs), which means there is no lockdown or other mobility limitations and life is getting back to normal slowly. However, in the last few months (since pandemic crisis started) our prevention and advocacy work has switched to significantly different directions, especially by focusing on the most vulnerable target groups, such as families at risk, children and youth during the lockdown period.
UTRIP has been funded by the Ministry of Health since 2009 and most of our prevention related activities are well-packed into a “Prevention Platform” programme (www.preventivna-platforma.si) which gathers more than 15 active partners and about 40 supporting institutions and organisations in Slovenia. We signed a new contract with the Ministry just a day before the epidemic was proclaimed by our government in March 2020. We have adapted our activities to COVID-19 crisis relatively fast in agreement with the Ministry of Health, including connecting with WHO, UNICEF, UNODC, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and many other institutions and organisations regarding parenting tips during the COVID-19 crisis (https://www.covid19parenting.com/#/home). In addition, we also translated and disseminated a leaflet developed by UNODC under their Listen First COVID-19 initiative “Parenting under COVID-19” (https://www.unodc.org/listenfirst/en/covid_parents.html).
Our activities have also been supported (not financially, but more promotionally) by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. They have provided some additional channels for distribution and promotion of our COVID-19 materials via their websites and online platforms (e.g. online educational platform). Our main channels of distribution and promotion of COVID-19 materials have been our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles or accounts (Prevention Platform in Slovenian and UTRIP in English). We published those materials in our newsletter which goes to about 1000 email addresses in Slovenia (e.g. schools and kindergartens, health and social services, local authorities, NGOs, academic and research institutions).
UTRIP has applied for funding from our government to develop Slovenian version of the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) 7-17 DVD version: https://strengtheningfamiliesprogram.org/, so we could provide an evidence-based intervention for families at risk, especially in difficult situations, such as lockdown or quarantine, staying at home due to unemployment, health-related issues etc. We think we must develop a more systematic approach regarding family-based prevention in the future to be able to respond quickly to all potential future crises (health or economic-related) and support families adequately. It is expected that the number of COVID-19 cases will increasing again in our country in autumn and we have to be ready with our remote prevention actions again if needed (including further promotion of social media kit on parenting tips and related leaflets and brochures). We are planning to develop some other tools for professionals, including webinars and online courses on how to use parenting tips in communication with parents and other carers.
Finally, we published a Slovenian translation of the book “Heineken in Africa” by Olivier van Beemen in June 2020 and obviously it’s a great success from an advocacy perspective. We also noticed (with no surprise) increased activities of alcohol industry in the time of pandemic crisis (especially beer and wine producers) to sell alcohol beverages online and organise door-to-door services, so we developed an advocacy campaign with some other NGOs in April 2020. We called the Government, the Ministry of Health and the National Assembly to ban the online sell of alcohol and all door-to-door services to prevent excessive alcohol consumption and domestic violence during lockdown. Unfortunately, there has not been any response by policy and decision makers since then, however the media coverage was surprisingly good and there were several expert discussions about those challenges.
Since VAD scheduled the life part of the ASAP training already in September, we have been very busy translating the PowerPoint presentations of the onsite and online training. Hopefully COVID-19 doesn’t stand in the way of our planning and will we be able to keep everything going as scheduled. Our master trainers are very eager to bring their knowledge in action by teaching the Flemish DPP’s about what makes prevention effective.
VAD is also very happy to announce that an official Dutch translation of the EUPC manual is available. Thanks a lot, to our colleagues of HO Ghent for their tremendous efforts in translating this handbook!