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Palestinian union of social workers and psychologists
History and Background

The grassroots’ movement and the civil society organizations in Palestine played and still playing an active role in serving the Palestinian community in all aspects of life. Historically, these organizations were founded within the general frame of resisting the Israeli occupation since 1967. Within this context the NGO movement took upon itself the social services agenda to counter back the systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructures; both social and material of the Israeli occupation policy. The NGO and civil society organizations and movements grow to be an integrated and active component of the social web of the Palestinian community. It is evident that the culture that prevailed as a result of this movement composes the corner stone in advocating resisting for independence and free democratic Palestine. It played a leading role in the past and it composes the future guarantee for a democratic State in Palestine.      

In the nineties and as a result of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, a partnership between the authority and the NGO community was established in order to better serve the community as well as to join forces in the struggle for a just and lasting peace. Within that frame, the Legislative Council in close cooperation with (PINGO) issue the NGO low to regulate the relationship between the NGO’S and the P.A. 

Within this orientation of re-building our society on democratic basis and activating the role of the civil society organizations in this process, the Union of Social Workers and Psychologists was founded in 1996 as a means of active participation in the re-formation of our community and making a difference in promoting the “helping professions” and makes a difference in the psychological build up of our children, families and all social systems; such as education, social services providers, and to lobby for better legislations and regulating lows for the helping professions.

The composition of the Union is of chapters in the various governorates of the West Bank and Gaza. Each Chapter holds democratic elections for its board of directors each second year, with the other elected members from the govenorates form the general assembly of the Union. The various chapters are autonomous in realizing the objectives of the Union. This decentralization policy had been adopted as a means of effective implementation within the needs of that particular chapter and due to occupation policies of closure, restriction of movements, invasion and re-occupation.

Bethlehem Chapter

The Bethlehem Chapter was established in 1997. Three hundred registered members compose the general assembly as well as the primary target group of the Bethlehem’s Chapter. Since the establishment of the chapter, three elections were held and the last one was on October 2003. presently the Bethlehem branch is a leading force in building the union on a solid basis and re structuring it on professional basis that will answer future challenges in registration/licensing processes as means to regulate the professions of social work and psychological interventions to better serve the community.   

Mission statement:

The union of social workers and psychologists is a grass root base organization committed to promote and maintain a forum for advocating the social workers and psychologists right of employment, better working conditions and pay that correspond to their training and working skills. The union and as a professional grass root organization is also committed to the professional development of its members and beyond. This professional development is regarded as a response to the expressed needs of the field and as a continuous development of its members. The union and as a professional gathering is committed to address the community needs, specially the distressed children and families in such a complex political and social situation that produces much alignments which needs to be addressed professionally. The union is committed to the values of human rights, justice and peace. With our commitment and foundational believes, we identify ourselves as a major players in advocating these rights as well as rendering all professional help needed in the various fields of social services and related fields. 

The Union mandate is to advocate, develop and serve as a forum for the union members. In our commitment to serve the members, the union board of directors identifies three major areas of operations:
1. Advocate the rights of social workers and psychologists to a better working condition and their rights to be considered as professionals in the field of their work.
? Develop a legal tool that can defend these rights and solve disputes.
? Lobbying the Union as a pre-requisite accreditation body for employing.
? Lobbying the Palestinian’s Legislative Council for adopting a regulator low that serve and promote our professional image and rights.

2. Attend to the professional and developmental needs of the union members. This is due to: lack of practice, no action research institutions available and that their training is within already established social services institution mainly based on charity and far away from professional practices as decision makers themselves constitute an obstacle to professional practices.

3. Activate such potentials among the union members for utilizing these potentials in serving their community in times that the community mostly needs such services due to the political/economical situation that the Palestinian community is going through.

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