My traineeship so far...
My name is Natasha, and I’m the ELRHA 2012 Communications Trainee. I’ve been in post around four months; I will be based at ELRHA until October 2012, after which I will be deployed to a Country Programme with Save the Children UK for 6 months.
My work at ELRHA involves supporting our Communications Officer, Emily, in the delivery of the ELRHA and HIF communications portfolio. For the last six weeks, I have lead on maintaining the ELRHA website and producing the ELRHA E-bulletin. I update the ELRHA website on an almost daily basis with news items and events relating to ELRHA’s work, or to the humanitarian sector more generally; this sometimes includes updating our training map or academic course directory. I am finding this immensely interesting – it is a really useful insight in to the work that various organisations and agencies are undertaking to improve the quality and delivery of humanitarian aid.
As part of my traineeship, I am also undertaking the Save the Children UK Humanitarian Operations Programme (HOP). This is probably the most challenging aspect of the traineeship. The HOP involves a week-long Emergency Field Course, which involves simulation based training; and a distance learning course covering all the essential aspects of emergency response required for humanitarian personnel. The modules really give you an insight into how each sector contributes to a first-phase response, and provide a rounded picture of activity within such a response. Having successfully completed both these aspects, I will then participate in a two-week Advance Field Training, involving further simulation based training. As Trainees we’re not allowed to discuss the content of the training we receive; suffice to say, the training provides a genuine insight in to what would be required of one should you be deployed to a ‘first-phase’ emergency.
I have also undertaken a number of other training courses, including Finance & Grants Management training; and will be spending a week with the Emergency Communications team in Save the Children UK’s Farringdon office in the next month. During that week, I will be providing support to the Emergency Communications Manager, and undertaking further Communications training on Case Studies. I am really excited by this prospect as this work will be similar to that which will be expected of me during my deployment.
During my training I have been exposed to the breadth of work undertaken by Save the Children UK; for example, I recently attended a fascinating session with the Humanitarian Advocacy team around campaigning on ‘bigger’, global issues. Save the Children UK did a lot of work in the run up to and during the recent DFID/Gates Foundation summit on Family Planning, on the rights of women and the importance of access to family planning. This was particularly interesting for me as I have previously worked in a more traditional, direct advocacy role; it was extremely interesting to see both the similarities and differences between campaigning on a small, individual scale and campaigning globally and targeting massive international organisations, and the international community as a whole.
I think that the training that I have received to date has been invaluable. It has been very general in nature, but that is because it is very difficult to design a programme which covers all aspects of an emergency response when the way in which an organisation responds to an emergency differs every time. That said, I think my training has been a true and fascinating insight into the work that goes into any emergency response. I also think that, whilst the training has been focused on Save the Children UK and its Response procedures and systems, my learning would be broadly applicable to other NGOs. I cannot emphasise enough how useful I believe this training to be; I am really hopeful that, having completed such a thorough training and undertaken a 6 month deployment, I will be better placed to secure the kind of role that I want within the humanitarian sector. I cannot speak more highly of the team at ELRHA, and indeed at Save the Children UK, and the skills that they have enabled me to develop. I would encourage anyone to apply for a traineeship scheme with either organisation; it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and is incalculable in terms of both learning and personal development, and the opportunities that it facilitates.
Natasha Cody - ELRHA Trainee