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Humani-Topic | Webinar with Dr. Gemma Houldey | Ending Burnout Culture in the Aid Sector | 24.11.21

From her book "The Vulnerable Humanitarian: Ending Burnout Culture in the Aid Sector"

CoCreate Humanity will have the pleasure to welcome Dr. Gemma Houldey for another very interesting webinar on the topic of burnout in the humanitarian sector.

There has been increased discussion in recent years about mental health in the aid sector. Whilst greater commitment to recognising problems of burnout among staff is positive, we still often understand its causes and symptoms through a very narrow lens. Mental health and wellbeing should not be separated from the major internal issues facing aid organisations right now - such as sexual harassment, inequalities between national and international staff, and racism. We need an approach which recognises diversity and difference, and allows for courageous and uncomfortable conversations about how we feel and how we relate to our colleagues and the people we serve. We need to find ways of embedding policies and practices that ensure everyone feels supported, and heard, in their experiences and lived realities. Ultimately we need to be more real, and more vulnerable, with one another.

This session will discuss the key ideas and recommendations from Dr. Gemma Houldey's new book "The Vulnerable Humanitarian: Ending Burnout Culture in the Aid Sector".

Topics will include:

- The negative impact of perfectionism and whiteness in aid practice

- What we hear and what we don't, regarding mental health in the sector

- Assessing your organisational culture and what policies and processes can make a difference

- Cultivating spaces and practices for more compassionate and courageous approaches to mental health

The session will appeal to leaders and teams trying to find a way out of unhealthy working cultures, but also to individuals wishing to heal from and overcome negative beliefs and behaviours regarding their own mental health. This approach recognises both the individual, and collective, responsibility in ending burnout culture in the sector.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday 24 November from 6pm to 8pm (CET).

To register, please write to and do not hesitate to share this online event with your coworkers and other humanitarians.

NB: the first hour presentation part will be recorded and shared later on our website, but not the second part, which is more interactive with the participants.


Gemma Houldey has over 15 years of experience with human rights and humanitarian programmes, particularly in the Middle East and East Africa, and over 6 years of research and training focused on staff care in the aid sector.

Her PhD thesis at the University of Sussex and new book, “The Vulnerable Humanitarian: Ending Burnout Culture in the Aid Sector” draws on research conducted in Kenya and her own personal experience.

She explores organisational culture, power dynamics, abuse and racism, and the need for more inclusive, caring and compassionate approaches to ourselves and our work.

She has spoken and written publicly about burnout, wellbeing, sexual abuse and racism in the sector for numerous media and broadcast platforms including BBC World Service, France 24, Voice of America, Open Democracy, the CHS Alliance Embodying Change podcast and One Step Forward podcast.

Gemma provides support and training on these issues to charities and aid agencies, and also offers breath and body workshops for teams and organisations. In addition to her professional experience and qualifications, she has completed 200 hour yoga teacher training and Process Work Facilitation for Leaders training along with multiple courses on mindfulness and embodied practice.

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