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Palestinian union of social workers and psychologists
Activities and Programs

Achievements:  

Presently, the Union occupied a spatial and a well-equipped building that allows for its various activities. This move was on July 2003 and since our training hall is been used extensively for the Union’s training programs as well as for many activities, meetings and training space for other NGO’S. This move is considered as a basic step towards achieving our operational goals and objectives generated from our statement of mission. The old office was unequipped to conduct all these activities.

On our way to institutionalize the Union and develop its internal capacity the board hired a professional and experienced man to take over the directorship of the Union. This move was implemented on February 2004. This move was taken since all board members are rather busy and can’t volunteer all their time and energy to the Union expanding activities. The methodology of volunteer work and the involvement of the Union members will still be a basic approach for us, yet the director will activate, deepen and coordinate this approach. Among this two highlights of the Union achievements towards establishing a professional center, the following is a summary of the activities as well as the ongoing projects that are implemented by the Union:
1. Building a credible network with local as well as international NGO’S, universities, Ministries and International unions with similar foundations.
2. Attending to the needs of our members by conducting 32 specialized workshops and courses in the fields of working with traumatize children, family counseling, and learning difficulties.
3. Contributing and lobbying the employment of 30 graduates.
4. Design and implement many programs in the field of community services, such as psychosocial support for children exposed to violent environments.
5. Established and maintained a sponsorship program for needy children in partnership with the Palestinian-Canadian Foundations.
6. Established a professional exchange program with Oslo University.
7. Professional exchange visits with the Norwegian Union of Social Workers.
8. Participate in Community Empowerment training projects; local leadership training, youth activities and women issues in partnership with local Palestinian NGO’S.   

Through these programs volunteers were recruited and trained from among the graduates and unemployed professionals in order to provide them with opportunities to improve their professional expertise, promote their competencies for better competition in the labor market and serve the disadvantaged groups in their communities.

The monthly average of volunteers who are actively involved in the programs is 20-30. New volunteers usually recruited and trained to replace those who find jobs (they represent 40%). In fact, this experience with volunteers, who are involved with children programs, youth training programs, networking activities, job creation activities, proved the efficiency of this approach to serve different purposes and groups. The proposed project lies is designed to accomplish the same vision. 

The Union adopted a methodological framework that allows for the utmost net working and integrated work with all civil society organizations and grassroots movements. Our strategic vision is based on a methodology that allowed for active participation of all members, professionals in the field and in partnership intervention in all programs.

Future prospects:

Within our stated mission, the Bethlehem Chapter is undertaking to work within the general frame of the Union aims and objectives, with attention to the specific needs and potentials of Bethlehem Chapter.

The Bethlehem chapter is at the stage of re-structuring itself and prepares the groundwork and the institutional structures that will allow it to achieve the following long-term objectives in conjunction with its role of advocating the rights of the social workers and psychologists, lobbying legislation and employment opportunities.

? Advocate the rights of social workers and psychologists for employment and better working conditions.
? 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.
? Develop on-going in house training programs as professional enhancement of the members in the field.
? Operate and function as one of the civil society organizations and

Action research center

Rationale:

Within the present context of our helping professions and the higher education institutions, action research is rather minimal if does not exist. Much of our interventions in issues of abuse, child and family counseling on education as well on the psychological levels are build only on theoretical knowledge or western models. Such interventions models do not take the characteristics and the cultural determents into account. The literature in helping professions confirm that the cultural values, social organizations; support systems, economical activities. Family dynamics and personal experiences as determents and paradigms that must be taken seriously in any intervention activities. Within this frame we believe that the union as a professional gathering is a successful tool to promote and guide action research directed towards assessing the present services as well as experimenting more effective methods that cater for the cultural and social paradigms.      

Objective:

? This project will enable our professional social workers and psychologists to adapt their theoretical knowledge and western models of intervention within the cultural frame of our community and its specific socio-political contexts.
? These researches will be developed into a Palestinian model of intervention and will serve as future references to students, practitioners and will be generalized to other chapters of the Union as well as other interested bodies in the business of social services providers.
? A web page will be developed and all research literature as well as their practical finding, field recommendation will be uploaded on the web for wider use. 

Continuous education

Rationale:

The helping professions are relatively new in our context, and support systems were and still largely resign within the family/clan structure. This paradigm is no longer effective within the speed of social change, confusion in old value systems and norms and the socio-political context we are living in. The professional supports must kick in and take its proper place in the helping professions. Existing social services institutions still functioning either with a charity/church base values or static governmental social welfare that is either limited with both human and material sources or identifies their work as helping the needy poor families. Such orientation and practice is suffocating the newly graduates and absorbers them into the system or alienate them to other fields of work which has nothing to do with their studies and training. Continuous education project based on the results of empirical researches that the union mandate is to promote and address the expressed needs of the field will develop and maintain a high standard and quality practices among the practitioners and change the social image of these professions by quality practice and the visible deference in the life and functions of target groups.

Objective:

? This project will serve our practioners with on job training and will help them be up-to-date as well as more efficient in their jobs.
? Accumulation of good practice and lobbing for the need of these practices will change the public image and open new venues of work for our graduates.
? Effective intervention on the community level.
     
Advocacy

Rationale

The Social Workers and Psychologists profession do not receive its proper place among the helping professions. Within this image, practitioners are struggling to find their place and practice their knowledge in the public and private sectors. Up till now there is no regulating laws and legislations to defend the rights of this category among the professional/helping careers. Many of the graduates are not employed although their skills and abilities are much needed within the political/social situation the community is living and the present metal health, social conflicts and all the phenomena that accompanied such as domestic violence, interpersonal conflicts, drug abuse and fundamentalism “regression to old models of behavioral modification and social control”.

As a forum for advocating the rights of the members, the Union believes that lobbying the P.A and the Legislative Council for regulating laws will assist in changing the present image and status of Social Workers and Psychologists and alleviate their professional and personal suffering. The Union and through this project will campaign on all levels available for the implementation of the newly adopted law of social services, especially among the charitable and private sectors that employs social workers and psychologists as well as raise awareness to the need of such professions among the education sector, medical sector and all other services that deals with people and their suffering.           

Objectives:

? Implementing the “social services law” as a first step within the Union in Bethlehem Chapter and generalize it to all chapters and advocate such implementation in private institutions that hires social workers and Psychologists.
? Informing all members through booklets and workshops about their rights.
? Creation of a task force from among the union members (those who do not have work) and upon the designed implantation plan, this task force will carry on all lobbying activities and on all levels.
? Create a legal body that will assist in all legal matters and draft all resolutions that need to be submitted to the designated authority.
? Coordinate and join forces with all other civil society groups that have an interest in this campaign.

Resource center/international net building

Rationale
 
The union and as stated in its mission is a forum for gathering of social workers and psychologists. We believe that the union should be a facilitator for students, graduates and practitioners in all their needs; resource library, internet excess, meeting place and professional help in all processes of research, printing, editing and information dissemination will assist the our target groups and lay the ground work for an active support system that will motivate them, create a space for self expressions and generate and renew their energy. As a Palestinian union we believe that we need to be a part of the World movement and be on constant relation with similar unions and research centers.

Objectives:

? Exchange visits with other similar Unions around the world.
? Sharing information and research results, attend and participate in regional and international conferences, seminars and workshops.
? Equip the union with computers, on line data gathering and search.
? Develop and maintain a specialized library as well as an archive center (electronic).
? Develop and maintain a scholarship system that aids our members to pursue their higher education in fields mostly needed in our context.

 Developmental services provider

Rationale

The Union is equipped spatially and human resources to facilitate and attend to the needs of community organizations, grassroots movements and professional service providers to meet there identified needs. In this respect, the Union can provide services in institutional building, evaluation, proposal writing and reporting. The union either will depends on its internal capacities (among its members) or develop a net work with all professionals in the field in order to meet the expressed need of the various groups.

Objective:

? Strengthen the capacities of existing NGO’S and social services providers.
? Be an active tool in advocating civil society values and practices.
? Assist in developing quality services rendered to our community in the various fields of social services.
? Create a pool of professionals and utilize their potentials in research projects, recommendation to the P.A. etc.
? Income generating project.

 
 
 
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