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So You Want to be a Relief Worker?

So You Want to be a Relief Worker?

About the Author

RedR

  • RedR is an international disaster relief charity which trains aid workers and provides skilled professionals to humanitarian programmes worldwide, helping to save and rebuild the lives of people affected by natural and man-made disasters. RedR was founded by an engineer in 1980. Thirty years on, engineers are still at the heart of RedR, forming the core of our 1700-strong Membership and providing essential funds through our Patron firms.
  • Find out more: RedR Website

Many RedR Members started out as graduate engineers with a desire to get involved in the humanitarian sector. However, over the years it has become harder and harder to get that crucial experience. RedR is here to help!

The first thing to know is that humanitarian work is not the same as development work. Humanitarian relief work is the immediate response within hours or days of a disaster taking place that aims to save lives and restore human dignity. Development work follows on from humanitarian responses, is longer term and tries to tackle the underlying causes of poverty.

Future Relief Worker Placements are arranged by RedR with UK charity Engineers Without Borders, and can range from water and sanitation work in Mexico, to designing and constructing shelters in Cameroon.

So once, you know it’s humanitarianism you’re interested in, the next thing you’ll need to think about are your own motivations for wanting to do this kind of work, and the type of challenges associated. You may want to do meaningful work, help others, or travel to different countries and cultures. That’s great, but the work and environment can be demanding, dangerous and very different to, and far from, home.

One way to really understand the humanitarian world and how your skills relate to it, is to take RedR’s one-day training course: So You Think You Want To Be A Relief Worker? You will hear first hand experiences from relief workers, learn about the nature of humanitarian relief, and look at the skills you have to bring to the sector.

You will also have the chance to go through the application process for the humanitarian sector, learning about where to apply, and what kind of skills are in demand. HR professionals from the humanitarian sector will help you adapt your CV and existing skills to match humanitarian language. The course will also advise you on further routes of study to inform your career as an aid worker.

Once you’ve taken the course, you’ll be looking to build on your knowledge and increase your network. One way to do this is to attend a RedR Hands-On Weekend. These events take place across the country, and are designed to immerse you into the messy, practical nature of relief work, showing you how your professional skills can be used ‘in the field’.

Another way to meet like-minded people is to become a RedR Affiliate. Affiliates have at least three years professional experience as well as a demonstrable commitment to the humanitarian sector (taking part in either of the events above would show this). They have access to mentoring from experienced RedR Members, invites to relevant industry events, discounts on RedR training, and a chance to apply for placements with humanitarian agencies. To find out more, email RedR.

If you work for one of the companies that supports RedR as a Patron, you may be able to go on an engineering placement in a developing country, and be funded by your employer. Future Relief Worker Placements are arranged by RedR with UK charity Engineers Without Borders, and can range from water and sanitation work in Mexico, to designing and constructing shelters in Cameroon. Talk to your employer for more details.

Of course, there are many routes to becoming a relief worker, and listed above are just a few. Take a look at the RedR website for more information on what we do, and how you can get involved.

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