In our work there are certain non-negotiables. Self-care and proper support to staff is critical…. It takes conscious planning. As we work with clients we also need to make sure we are grounding ourselves ~ Mpumi Zondi, Clinical Director, Sophiatown Community Psychological Services

If an organisation has lost its soul it needs to reclaim it as a process of recovery otherwise all the other changes/strategies will not work effectively. When an organisation is not ‘safe’ you see people separating self from professional.  When an organisation stops creating, its as good as  ‘dead’.  When an organisation stops creating room for positive confrontation it stops growing.  When an organisations stops theorising their work, it becomes a dangerous space.- Hope Chigudu, Organisational Development Consultant, HopeAfrica, Zimbabwe

Practitioners are at the heart of responses to VAWG and HIV/AIDS. Without the people doing the work – in a paid capacity and as unpaid carers- societies would not be able to respond to these intersecting challenges. However in the course of their work, frontliners also face security threats for speaking out, the emotional burden of working on violation which is typically not addressed through workplace support-systems (outside of the formal counselling sector); and the realities of activist burn-out. This presents a human resource challenge for prevention and response sectors, as well as a political concern in terms of defending those who lead on and sustain action against injustice. The well-being needs of carers tend to be overlooked by both society and policy, particularly given that care work tends to be performed by women.

While there is growing attention to the well-being and security needs of practitioner-activists, there is also reticence to consider investing in this among donors (as this raises ‘institutional costs’) and also among policy makers.

Through the Defending Frontliners programme, AIR will support practitioner-activists to better integrate well-being and security measures into their own organisational and individual practice.