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Network of Neighbors: A Trauma Response Network

Who we are

The Network of Neighbors Trauma Response Network is composed of community members trained to support — and lead — responses to stress, trauma, loss, and violence within their own communities.

The Network is not a violence-prevention or anti-violence program. Instead, the Network is focused on addressing the impact of trauma on individuals and communities.


By supporting those closest to what happened, we not only address their trauma — which is so often forgotten about — but we may actually be supporting the “direct victim” and their family more effectively. This is because “direct victims” are more likely to accept help from those they know and trust — especially in the immediate aftermath of an incident.

The Network does not just respond to violence. The Network responds to whatever the community experiences as violence, loss, stress, or trauma. Network interventions take place in response to a specific incident of violence or trauma — or in response to ongoing circumstances that may be stressful, including continued exposure to violence or trauma.

Oftentimes, Network “Trauma Responders” are already the trusted faces of their neighborhoods and networks. As the resident experts and leaders, they are in the best position to restore a sense of safety, facilitate healing, and inspire hope after a violent or traumatic event. This is because:

  • Each traumatic incident affects everyone — and every community — differently.
  • Communities know best what they need to support themselves.
  • When local leadership sits in the drivers seat, everyone else gets on board. In other words: when local knowledge directs the healing process, responding partners begin to collaborate together in the actual interests of the community.

As Trauma Responders with the Network of Neighbors Program, these community members and leaders can continue their work as part of a coordinated system that recognizes their expertise. The Network provides ongoing opportunities for training and professional development, as well as emotional and financial support.

Our Vision

We believe that in order to establish a truly trauma-informed approach to healing, we must begin by recognizing every individual’s and each community’s unique circumstances and history.

To this end, we envision a Philadelphia where each neighborhood is home to its own trauma response network. Community-based “Network Leads” will receive requests for assistance within their own neighborhoods, train community members, and organize responses utilizing local trauma responders.

What We Do

What the Network of Neighbors Offers one-pager (PDF)

The Network builds community-based capacity and cross-system collaborations through the coordination of locally-driven responses to stress, trauma, violence and loss.

The program is designed to strengthen local efforts first, and recede into the background as neighborhood networks emerge and strengthen.

The Network’s services are intended for the broader impacted community—witnesses, classmates, friends, neighbors, teachers, colleagues, etc. They are not appropriate for the “direct victim,” or the “direct victims” family.

Depending on the situation and the needs/wishes of the community, the Network may provide:

Technical Assistance and Support

  • This includes behind-the-scenes response coordination, connections to local and city-wide resources, offices, and organizations, and information about best practices relating to trauma and safety-building.
    • Case Study: A student suddenly dies at a local high school. The Network may assist the school staff in preparing activities for the students, contacting the family, making arrangements for the deceased’s belongings, etc.

Psychological First Aid (PFA)

  • Network “Trauma Responders” are trained to provide PFA if a community requires immediate support following an incident of violence or trauma. PFA focuses on stabilizing community members in crisis by assisting the individual in securing immediate safety and providing non-judgmental support.
    • Case Study: A bus transporting participants in a youth program turns over, injuring several students. Alarmed parents and caregivers immediately begin arriving at the youth program site. The Network may be contacted to deploy Trauma Responders to the scene to provide a calm, supportive presence.

Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM) Interventions
**PTSM Interventions correspond to what stage the community is at in the healing process**

  • Orientation Sessions are open to the entire impacted community. They take place within a few days of the incident. The focus is on providing accurate information about the event, including information from officials involved in the incident and its aftermath. The Network often calls on Trauma Responders with content area expertise relating to what happened, in addition to other organizations, agencies, or offices that could provide useful information to the community.Orientation sessions also provide information about typical physical and emotional reactions to trauma, as well as information about where to turn within the community and the city for additional support and services.
  • Stabilization Groups take place within the first 12-48 hours of the incident and run for 45 minutes. Each group supports 6-15 participants who self-identify as having a similar relationship with the deceased or comparable exposure to the incident.The focus of the group is on stabilizing individuals, normalizing reactions to stress,supporting positive coping and sel-care plans, developing safety plans for the funeral (if applicable), and screening for further services-referrals.
  • Coping Groups accommodate 3-10 participants for 1.5-2 hours, typically 3-4 weeks after the incident. However, coping groups can be held at any point in time, whenever the community has not yet had a chance to process the experience as a group. The discussion provides participants a safe space in which to discuss one’s involvement in the incident, thoughts surrounding what happened, as well as reactions—including physical reactions—and coping strategies for adapting to traumatic stress.
  • Self-care Discussions accommodate 3-10 participants for 1.5 to 2 hours. The discussion addresses thoughts and reactions to the type of work performed by the group’s members. This can include parenting, caring for one’s community, teaching, organizing, being part of a case management, victim service, or peer specialist team, etc. In other words, anytime “emotional labour” is performed. Self-care discussions are the only non-incident specific intervention offered by the Network of Neighbors. Coping strategies, self-care plans and resources are explored as a group.

Presentations and Workshops
Network staff (Yolanda and Kamela), along with Network Trauma Responders, provide presentations and workshops to communities upon request. Each presentation or workship is modified according to the circumstances and needs of the community, but all provide information about the Network of Neighbors program, as well as the impact of trauma and violence on individuals and communities. The focus is always on providing practical information and resources. The Network also seeks to facilitate a dialogue with the community and share the mic with local organizations and leaders.


Network of Neighbors Trauma Responder Training

The free, 2.5 day training to become a Trauma Responder with the Network of Neighbors will be offered annually/bi-annually until our capacity expands.

The training is open to any community member who lives or works in Philadelphia. There are no degree or experience requirements. However, preference is given to:

Community members over agency/organization personnel.

      • Those who are actively involved in their community or want to become involved.
      • Those who are able to connect with others, collaborate, and advocate with credibility.

Participants in the Network of Neighbors Trauma Responder Training learn about how trauma impacts the body and brain, as well as trauma-informed postvention (post-incident) and early intervention in reference to individuals (Psychological First Aid), and communities (Post Traumatic Stress Management, or PTSM).


Additional Trainings for Trauma Responders

The Network provides ongoing opportunities for additional professional development, networking, and training for Trauma Responders. Additional training may take place during the quarterly Trauma Responder meetings, or in addition to the quarterly meetings.

Where We Work

The Network of Neighbors is a Philadelphia-wide program. Network interventions and presentations take place wherever the community is most comfortable and whenever is most convenient for the community: during the day, in the evening, and on weekends.

The Network is an initiative of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). Network staff (Yolanda and Kamela) are based out of the Community Behavioral Health building at 801 Market Street.

How It Works

The ASK Model: The Network never responds unless invited in by the community.

The Network is not 24/crisis response. When a community member contacts the Network of Neighbors staff, Yolanda and Kamela will speak with that community member about:

  1. What happened
  2. Who is impacted, and how
  3. What has already happened to respond to the harm
  4. Supports already in place in the community
  5. Who else in the community we should talk to.

**No intervention is planned without a community member acting as co-lead, mediator (between the community and the Network), and gatekeeper. This person is often the community member who contacts the Network, but not always.

**In some cases, the Network may respond immediately to meet with community leadership or to provide psychological first aid.

Information Gathering

Based on the information provided by the community member, the Network may:

  • Reach out to other community members/leaders for input
  • Contact other responding partners, organizations, and agencies, (if appropriate and with permission of community leadership)
  • Convene meetings and/or conference calls with all parties involved in the response
Technical Assistance and Support
  • The Network may provide T.A. and Support to community leadership, as well as information and referrals.
PTSM interventions
  • The Network may recommend a PTSM intervention. Any combination of PTSM interventions may be provided to a community, including the full continuum in response to a single incident.
  • The Network will reach out to Trauma Responders in accordance with the planned intervention. Most of the time, all Trauma Responders are contacted to gage availability; however, the Network may reach out to specific Trauma Responders depending on the situation, the language or culture of the community, and/or the community’s need for content area expertise.
    • Pre-briefing: Trauma Responders will participate in a pre-response conference call briefing to discuss the incident, the response, and the roles of each Trauma Responder.
    • The Response: Trauma Responders arrive a half-hour early to receive additional briefing and assist with set-up.
    • Post-response briefing: Network staff will convene a conference call a few days to a week after the incident to debrief as a team and gather feedback from the Trauma Responders. Prior debriefing may have already occurred immediately after the response (on-site) but depending on circumstances this is not always the case.
  • The Network may return to the community to provide additional PTSM interventions if requested to do so. Or the Network may follow-up with additional technical assistance and referrals. As we like to say, the Network slowly “coasts out” as community leadership feels comfortable, and as we connect the community with additional programming or services.
  • The community may have contacted the Network about non-incident specific concerns related to stress, trauma, or violence. In this case the Network will typically provide a presentation or workshop. After the presentation the Network will compile a list of those interested in a self-care discussion, to be facilitated on a different date.
How to Use the Network

If you are a member of a community impacted by acute stress, trauma, loss, or violence—or you are close to that community—you are in the best position to serve as a bridge between the community and the Network of Neighbors program.

You are encouraged to call 267-233-4837 or email networkofneighbors@phila.gov to speak with Network staff. Your call or email will be answered within 1-2 business days.

When to Use the Network
Post-incident of trauma, violence or loss
  • If you feel emotionally distressed as a result of trauma, violence, or loss occurring within your community.
  • If you feel as if you would like to do something to help your community, but you’re not sure where to start.
  • When you recognize that an event of trauma, violence or loss is having a big impact on your community and is affecting many community members.
  • When you notice that members of your community are experiencing stress, burnout, or compassion fatigue as a result of the “work” they are doing, or as a result of community violence, national tensions, or any other potential stress.
  • You may also call the Network if you are part of a community engaged in any form of work that requires emotional labour. Nothing needs to be “wrong” for a self-care discussion!
Information, Resources, and Presentations/Workshops
  • You are a member or leader (of any community) and would like information and resources regarding trauma, community violence, self-care and postvention (post-incident response).
  • You are a member or leader (of any community) and you would like the Network to meet with your community and/or provide a presentation or workshop.
How To Get Involved
  • Invite the Network to a community meeting to provide a presentation/workshop for community members.
  • Connect the Network to a community experiencing stress, trauma, violence or loss.
  • Spread the Word! Connect the Network to your workplace, your child’s school, your place of worship, your civic association, your volunteer organization, etc.
  • Become a Trauma Responder
  • Contact the Network for additional information.
  • Self-care Discussions are a great way to help your community and get a feel for what the Network of Neighbors program. They take place wherever your community regularly meets, are simple to set up, and 100% confidential. Read more about our Self-Care Discussions here.
Connect with the Network

For more information, contact the Network at 267-233-4837.