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Trauma-informed Lawyering: a professional development training course hosted by SolidariTee in 2024


SolidariTee is delighted to be hosting an in-person professional development opportunity in Athens in spring 2024 for lawyers and those involved in providing legal support to refugees and other displaced people. Bridging the gap between legal aid and mental health support, and ensuring that legal assistance is accessible to people who have experienced trauma or who have complex mental health needs, is a big part of what we stand for, and this course is one way that we can complement our grant funding strategy to improve the provision of safe, effective and accessible legal aid for all. This post shares some context about what SolidariTee stands for and why we're hosting this course for those interested in understanding more about our strategy, and contains joining information for those working in Greece and interested in registering to attend.

 

Trauma-informed lawyering: what is it, and what does it mean in practice?

Trauma-informed approaches are ways of supporting people and communities which are grounded in understanding about the ways that trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life, and which seek to overcome the barriers that people who have experienced traumatic events often face in accessing essential services like legal aid, healthcare, or social care. 


Being trauma-informed means recognising that trauma has particular impacts on a person’s experiences of the world and can affect their responses at all levels; from neurological and biological through to impacting on a person’s ability to form relationships or verbalise events. 


It also means shifting away from viewing natural responses to trauma as being something ‘wrong’ with a person, and instead focusing on approaches to creating safety, trust and support for each person’s individual needs and unique responses to what they have experienced. 


SolidariTee’s partner NGOs and other organisations providing legal aid to refugees in Greece are working with a population who have, in almost all cases, fled persecution, violence or discrimination, and made incredibly dangerous journeys in search of safety. By definition, this means that almost everyone that team members at legal aid organisations are supporting has experienced one or more human rights violations or perceived their life or safety to be at risk.


Why are trauma-informed approaches important?

As such, many people who are forced to navigate the asylum system are dealing with lasting effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In a 2022 study, researchers found that 75% of men who were refugees from Syria in Greece met the criteria for PTSD. Despite this, the asylum system is not set up to be trauma-informed at all; legal aid organisations are generally forced to prepare people to retell their stories in a way that is deeply destabilising and frightening in front of asylum authorities, often without tailored training in how to support clients in this way. 


What will the course cover?

This training course being offered to complement the existing expertise and skills of legal aid lawyers, and other professionals involved in providing legal assistance to asylum seekers and other migrants in vulnerable situations in Greece. It is aimed at supporting legal colleagues to better mitigate the risks of retraumatisation to their clients, and to most effectively incorporate mental health considerations within a person’s legal case itself. 


Examples of modules include:

  •  Mental health conditions in legal contexts

  •  Vicarious (second hand) trauma for legal professionals

  •  Legal research on mental health

  •  Legal submissions addressing mental health

  •  Case management & coordination


This 3-day programme builds upon SolidariTee’s wider strategy to improve knowledge of, and access to, trauma-informed legal aid for all those in need of legal aid within the asylum system in Greece. This is reflected in the organisations we choose to partner with, as well as the training and capacity strenghtening opportunities we co-develop for partner and non-partner organisations alike.


Our 2024 course will be delivered by Sabine Larribeau in collaboration with guest facilitators. Sabine developed and delivered a 9-month training programme called the ‘Therapeutic Legal Assistance Model’, which was delivered to our first ever cohort of legal aid professionals in 2023 through SolidariTee funding, during her time as director of AMERA International. The feedback we received and changes SolidariTee have observed have been overwhelmingly positive, and we have since received numerous requests for continued learning opportunities. 


Through AMERA itself will not be continuing to operate in 2024 and beyond, we are deeply grateful to be working with Sabine directly in order to build on the success and learning from the 2023 course with a new cohort of participants, and ensure that resources are available for legal aid professionals as widely as possible. 


To read more and attend, take a look at the info brochure below, and register for the course via the link HERE.


For supporters wanting to read more about our strategy and work supporting trauma-informed approaches, please check out our 2023 impact report HERE.


We look forward to updating you on the course and its achievements soon! If you have any questions, please email Alexa at alexa@solidaritee.org.uk for more info.




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