Caring for others and for ourselves

- August 26, 2021

Caring for others and for ourselves at New Life Portugal

- Our history

Caring for others and for ourselves is key. When our founders Julien and Johan established our sister site in Thailand twelve years ago, they recognised the emotional and often financial depletion of individuals in recovery. Their aim was to create an affordable place to go after primary care where people could practice and sustain sobriety in a supportive community and retreat-like setting.

As the years passed, it became clear that it wasn’t just those recovering from addictions that needed a place to cultivate sustainable well being. People from all walks of life started benefitting from our nourishing retreat setting, integrative care programme and engaged community life.

Since then, thousands of people have benefited from our unique model of care, as have we. We have learnt so much from all the guests that came through our doors, their stories, life experiences and generous contributions to our community.

New Life has continued to evolve every year, shaped by those that have been part of the journey with us. The backbone of New Life Foundation has always been our staff and volunteer team, though. New Life attracts some of the most diverse, skilled and compassionate people from all corners of the world, who have lived and worked with us and shared our values and vision.

Our takeaways regarding our staff & volunteers

Just like our guests, our staff and volunteers have shaped our organisation. Their commitment to their own growth and personal integrity and willingness to share their stories with the community has resulted in a culture where empathy, respect and understanding are felt by all.

Working at New Life offers opportunities to serve and support others on their path to wellbeing while also experiencing connection and meaningful belonging yourself. However, time and experience have taught us that such heart-centred work also means emotional labour.

Community life provides benefits and challenges, creating a unique tension in which we can grow – if there is intentional, focused effort to do so as well as wholehearted support.

The future of Caring for others and for ourselves

We took creating a new site in Portugal as a chance to take stock of our relationship with our staff and volunteers. We want to continue to offer an exceptional place to live and work and are committed to improving the experience for the whole team. That means ensuring that working at New Life is nourishing and sustainable.

To do this, we asked our staff and volunteer alumni to share their experiences of working with us. The feedback we received combined with best practices in human resource approaches from around the world and the reflections of our core staff and management have shaped a refreshed policy. It also influenced our approach to the recruitment, retention and development of staff who so generously dedicate themselves to our vision and community.

We wish to share with you our vision as we move forward. Like people, organisations are living entities that evolve. We recognise the value of setting intentions to guide us on our way, and we hope you will continue to contribute to our growth in the future.

Our vision for staff/volunteer wellbeing

  • Incorporating the 5 precepts as a moral and ethical compass, enabling wisdom and mindfulness in all aspects of our organisational and community life to cultivate a safe and supportive environment.
  • Employing systems to routinely evaluate whom we can best and safely serve in our community.
  • Systemic support for staff & volunteer wellbeing to reduce turnover and burnout by providing enrichment, socialisation and professional growth opportunities.
  • Providing clear protocols on how to resolve conflict and voice concerns in the community.
  • We anticipate, accept and welcome change as an essential skill for individual and organisational wellbeing and provide support to enable meaningful change.
  • Remunerating our staff and offering benefits and working environments that enrich, develop and cultivate sustainable wellbeing for each member of our team.
  • We commit to processes, structures and procedures that enable regular review of staff pay and benefits to ensure fair and transparent remuneration structures.
  • Maintaining the standard of securing staff and volunteers who embody our core values in their personal & professional lives and are committed to contemplative practices on a regular basis.
  • We embrace and trust the role of simplicity in healing and as a form of wisdom, and will remind each other of its value, not just for our own lives, but in decisions we make as an organisation, knowing that it may at times be counter-cultural.
  • We commit to creating and maintaining the integrity of organisational structures that honour simplicity and enable us to reach our goals and embody our values efficiently and effectively.
  • Create and nurture programming and experiences at all organisational levels to foster a meaningful sense of belonging, providing opportunities for challenge as well as respite, practice and play, individually and collectively.
  • We commit to regularly reviewing our vision, mission, values and pillars, with the input of all staff, to ensure fidelity to our model, and as a guide to future decisions, committing to preserve and protect the integrity of our model.
  • Nurturing and preserving compassion in our work and lives through daily contemplative practices.
  • Treating ourselves with kindness and care which enables us to provide kindness and care to those whom we serve.
  • Incorporating a trauma-informed lens in our services and programming through staff training and thoughtful planning, ensuring safety and sustainable wellbeing for everyone in our community. This includes the impact of ‘emotional labour’ on staff, how trauma manifests in community life, and ways to reduce re-traumatisation.
  • We invite the use of a democratic system that values organisational transparency, robust leadership and creates opportunities to share strengths, talents and wisdom.
  • We welcome diversity in perspectives and openness, in particular to task-related conflict which results in better, more creative decisions.
  • We commit to incorporating HR, admissions and counselling resources to ensure we sustain a community of cultural humility, inclusion and belonging where everyone feels welcome, seen and heard.

The role of Leadership at New Life Portugal

Studies estimate that nearly 50% of behavioural health care providers feel overburdened due to the emotionally taxing nature of their job, high stress levels, perceived lack of career advancement opportunities, and low salaries as well as high caseloads.

The cumulative result of such prolonged work-related stress is employee burnout.

To improve the conditions for wellbeing among our employees, we commit to intentional organisational leadership. We acknowledge that the success and skill of our managers and leaders reduces employee burnout.

We are committed to providing the best conditions for our employees through working with participatory leadership culture and organisational structures that support transparency, safety and predictability.

By implementing our vision we are confident that New Life Portugal will be a nourishing, fruitful and meaningful place to work.
Interested in a career with New Life Portugal? See our current vacancies HERE.

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