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It makes me feel quite humble...

Posted by Steve Read on October 11, 2013

Listening to Radio 4 whilst driving home the other day, I heard Terry Waite talking to children and parents who were caught up in last month’s terrorist attack on the shopping mall in Nairobi.  Those people experienced and witnessed appalling things, but Mr Waite focussed on the future, and not dwelling on the past.  It is too soon to forgive he said, but that can come in the future, however  "that involves a relationship between the person who is forgiving and the one who is seeking forgiveness and that's unlikely to happen in this situation."  He also said "If you can help it, don't let that anger turn to bitterness, because it is like a cancer that enters the soul, and does more harm to those who hold it than to those against whom it's held."

Terry Waite speaks from experience.  He was held captive in a cellar in Beirut for 4 years in the 1880s by Hezbollah.  I met Terry in 2011, and he is an astonishing man.  I described him as ‘inspiring’ to my family.  When one of them asked me ‘what has he inspired you to do?’, I must admit, I was at a loss for an answer.

Two years later, I know the answer.  I do what I can to help those who have a stronger resolve than I, who are perhaps more courageous than I, who are truly inspired to act, to do great things.  By way of example, I have been privileged to work with the Psychosocial Support Team (PST) at the British Red Cross.  The PST goes to places where people affected by disasters need psychological and emotional support.  They were there for people in Haiti following the earthquake, in Ethiopia to help kidnap victims, and yes, they were there to help those traumatised by the attack in the Nairobi shopping mall.  Brave people, who have my utmost respect.

We are pleased to have Dr Sarah Davidson, head of the PST with us at the Cambridge Strategic HR Forum on 20th November.  Sarah will talk to us about the challenges of managing and leading such a team – volunteers, all clever people, going to dangerous places, with significant logistical demands. How do you keep them motivated? How do you manage their expectations? How do you ensure you provide the right support? How do you promote the safety and security of those wanting to help, ensuring they are adequately selected, trained, prepared and supported?

Contact Rachel for more details rachel.read@helix-consultancy.com

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