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Network of Neighbors Responding to Violence

City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services

Network of Neighbors Responding to Violence Logo

Program Website
Year:
2017
State:
Pennsylvania
Winner Status:
Applicant
Program Type:
Counseling and Support
Target Population:
Community
Setting:
Community

Program Description

The Network of Neighbors Responding to Violence is a community-based network of Philadelphians who can be called-on to support communities after violent traumatic incidents. The goals of the Network are to: reduce the impact and effects of the exposure to violence, increase education around community violence and trauma, utilize a community-based network of resources to assist following a traumatic incident, tap into the strengths of communities, bring communities to work toward the same goal, and prevent traumatic situations from feeding the cycle of violence. Network members, also known as Acute Trauma Responders, are trained in a community-based trauma intervention model which taps into social connections to help foster healthy coping. When responding to a community following a violent incident, the Network’s Acute Trauma Responders seek to reduce the natural symptoms of stress associated with exposure to violence, strengthen coping skills, support the natural human tendency to group together for solace and safety, and identify those who need extra support and connect them to community-based resources. These supportive interventions are meant to decrease stress experienced after violence, to increase social cohesion, and to bolster individual and community functioning.

Creativity

Normally, response to violence and trauma is imposed on a community based on a set of external assumptions. In contrast, the Network seeks to engage the community prior to an incident, train community members, and assess the needs of that community before responding WITH the community. The responders in the Network of Neighbors are members of the community who reside in the neighborhoods impacted by violence or traumatic incidents, and often support their neighbors anyway, but now can do so as part of a larger system. Responders are trained in Psychological First Aid (PFA) and Post-Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM) – interventions that are trauma-informed and evidence-informed. Training members of the community has the advantage of empowering those communities, giving communities voice, creating social connections, identifying healthy coping strategies, and reducing stress and fear in the community. It taps into the existing strengths and trust within the community while addressing trauma.

Leadership

One of the major goals of the Network is to coordinate and collaborate with existing community-based resources. This has resulted in increased supports and information sharing, reduced redundancy, and fostered a collaborative approach to providing supports and helping communities to recover. In addition, members of the Network function as ambassadors by providing input into its design, as well as spreading the word about the Network. This is all coordinated by the Network of Neighbors Coordinator, who attends community meetings, facilitates ongoing training to communities at no cost, and to assist with developing leadership roles for responders and community members within the 12 geographic divisions of the city. The Network Coordinator will meet with the team leaders and teams within the division for technical support, professional development/training, and future planning. Stipends and a train-the-trainer program are incentives to support community members and to professionalize the work.

Sustainability

The Network of Neighbors started in June 2016 after a committee of partnering agencies convened for two years with a mission to develop a coordinated response network that is: community driven, trauma informed, and evidence informed. This committee includes over 35 partners from the community, victim service agencies, schools, violence prevention, academic institutions, government, public, and nonprofit agencies. The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services is the lead sponsor of the Network and funds the ongoing work and expansion in partnership with the International Trauma Center, and Dr. Robert Macy, in Boston, MA. The planning committee pursues grants and other funding to insure the sustainability of the program, and to plan to transition the program into a community-based trauma collaborative. The Network was recently highlighted by the Mayor of Philadelphia as a public health approach to support communities following violence and trauma in the City’s one-year accomplishments.

Replicability

The interventions utilized when responding to incidents are uniform, specific, and targeted to focus on the coping skills of someone when impacted by a traumatic incident. Unlike violence intervention programs, the Network addresses the traumatic responses to incidents. These interventions are modeled in the 2.5 day training and attendees are provided with written materials and protocols to follow. Trauma responders receive a national credential as a trauma responder. The PTSM intervention has been utilized in various responses including the Boston marathon bombing, Sept 11, Hurricane Katrina, school suicides in Boston, as well as major international incidents. This Trauma Response Network has been replicated across the US and internationally. The Network has intervened in Philadelphia, responding to homicide, traumatic stress-related work incidents, and various school incidents. Each response resulted in feedback of a reduction in stress for participants and participants were able to identify healthy coping responses.

Results/Outcomes

The Network of Neighbors launched in June 2016 and trained 108 individuals in the Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM) and Psychological First Aid (PFA). Interest in the training resulted in a waiting list of 40 people. The Network’s goal is to train another 100 responders in 2017, and another 100 responders in 2018, in conjunction with the development of a train-the-trainer model which will allow for training at more flexible times for the community. Out of the 108 trained, 49 individuals agreed to be Trauma Responders; 16 responders can support non-English speaking communities. Since the hiring of a Network Coordinator in October 2016, the Network has responded to 19 incidents which has resulted in 74.5 hours of support and/or technical assistance to communities. The Network has facilitated 4 PTSM intervention groups serving 36 people (72 hours of intervention) and has provided 22.5 hours of trainings/presentations to communities.