8th October 2018


Listed as the UN’s 4th sustainable development goal, access to quality education significantly varies throughout the world. Crisis Classroom, a collective fund of Prism, are advocates of education as a means of transforming lives, providing volunteers with the skills they need to teach vulnerable groups effectively. This is done via their non-for-profit workshop, managed by Kate, a qualified teacher of over 20 years, and Darren, a qualified therapist and life coach. These workshops have been developed in response to both Darren and Kate’s own experience of teaching in European refugee camps. Lewis Parkes, a relationship Manager at Prism, attended one of these workshops on 1st October.

Crisis Classroom

The Crisis Classroom training consists of two parts– ‘building you’ and ‘building resources’. ‘Building You’ trains volunteers how to teach under stress, whereas ‘building resources’ focuses on what volunteers should teach, depending on their individual skill set. Lewis attended the first day, which encapsulated the ethos of Crisis Classroom. This is that volunteers must be able to identify and regulate their own trauma to create a safe, comfortable space for vulnerable groups to learn. The day was broken down into six activities, participated by approximately 20 volunteers.

The activities focused on helping volunteers to identify their individual triggers for traumas, and then teaching the different ways in which volunteers could mitigate the effects of these triggers. A trigger can be anything that makes someone feel unsafe or uneasy. For example, for someone who fears water, being on a boat or the thought of being on a boat may act as a trigger making them feel unsafe or nervous.

Crisis Classroom use the concept of ‘MATES House’ to teach skills to mitigate the effects of triggers. Mates House is the idea that in a house you have an attic, a living area and a basement. The living area represents an area of comfort where people have a calm mind. When assisting people who have suffered great trauma, teachers/volunteers need to have their ‘mind and body’ within the living room, so they can best help people who have suffered trauma and guide them into the ‘safe area’. Below the living room there is the basement, and above the living room there is the attic. Triggers can drive individuals away from the living room and either down to the basement or up to the attic. When people reach the basement level they can feel depressed, numb, hopeless and weak. Conversely when people are pushed up to the attic they can feel enraged, irritated, anxious and panicky. The exercise was aimed at making volunteers aware that when assisting vulnerable people, they need to be aware of their triggers so that they can stay within the living room (the safe area) to assist people. The acronym of MATES house stands for Mind, Air, Tree, Express and Stretch, and these are the different methods that can be used to help individuals mitigate the effects of a trigger. For example, someone who’s fear is triggered by being on a boat, may find that breathing deeply and getting in lots of air may help to calm them and bring them back down into the safe area of the living room.


At the end of the day it was clear that everyone who had attended the session had taken something from it. Mainly everyone was able to understand the importance of firstly focussing on themselves to help others more effectively – something that can be quite easily forgotten when faced with helping people who have suffered great traumas. Being at Prism has enabled Darren and Kate to fully focus on developing a training programme which helps volunteers and teachers prepare effectively to help those in need!


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