Blog posts

Rethinking Mental Illness

Here I am, sitting at my desk in the Vauxhall office of Rethink Mental Illness, after months of anticipation and preparation! It is my fourth day today, and after the strange feeling that overcomes oneself when entering unknown terrain, I am beginning to settle in. The occasional tea break allows me to enjoy the sensational view out of the 15th floor windows, with MI6 to one side of the building, and Big Ben, the London Eye and the City of London to the other. Having a chat over a cup of tea also really helps getting to know the team (and so did a 5-hour post-work picnic in the park yesterday!).

20 Participants for Charity Insights 2014 announced

The Careers Service are thrilled to announce the Charity Insights participants for 2014. The standard of entries this year was really high and we have some fantastic projects and charities our students will be working with. Our 20 participants include:

  • Rupert Belsham, 1st year Physics, The Passage
  • Nicholas Burstow, 2nd year Medicine, Multiple Sclerosis Trust
  • Jun Cao, PhD Medicine, The George Institute for Global Health
  • Anna Cupani, PhD Chemical Engineering, Sense about Science
  • Isabelle Erbacher, 2nd year Medicine, Rethink Mental Illness
  • Martha Hilton, 2nd year Physics, RECLAIM
  • Rebekah Hodgkinson, 1st year Biology, The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
  • Clara Hurst, 2nd year Chemistry, Thomas Frederick Willets Foundation
  • Ramandeep Kang, 2nd year Physics, Barnado’s
  • Julia Langer, PhD Medicine, Population Health Genomics Foundation
  • Juha Leppanen, 1st year Maths, Green Alliance
  • Elizabeth Mitchell, 2nd year Biochemistry, British Heart Foundation
  • Chandrika Nair, PhD Microbiology, The Small Piece Trust
  • Lee Pearson, PhD Centre for Environmental Policy, CABI Trust
  • Vanessa Place, 1st year Biochemistry, St Anne’s Community Services
  • Chun-Yin San, 2nd year Biomedical Science, Sense about Science
  • Jay Shah, 2nd year Physics, British Red Cross
  • Chloe Thorn, 1st year Biomedical Science, British Red Cross
  • Thomas Windle, 4th year Mechanical Engineering, Cornwall Wildlife Trust
  • Kristiana Xhuxhi, 2nd year Biochemistry, RSPB (Wild about Hampstead Heath)
At the Charity Insights preparation workshop Front row L-R: Anna, Chadrika, Ramandeep, Isabelle Back row L-R: Rupert, Kristiana, Juha, Jun, Lee, Rebekah, Julia

Well done and good luck to all our participants!

How do maps help in a disaster?

In my final week here at the Red Cross, I have been finding out more about using maps for disaster risk management.  Maps are used in a range of situations in the disaster risk management cycle, from pre-disaster prevention to post-disaster recovery. This will be the topic of my final blog.

Understanding vulnerability using maps

Rapid population growth and unplanned urbanisation, combined with extreme climate events are causing an increase in vulnerability of communities exposed to disasters.

This means there is a great need to use information to plan ahead.  With the internet and new technologies, a vast amount of information is now available to use.

The Fast-Paced World of Disaster Response

It has been a busy and exciting week here at the British Red Cross.

The week began with the earthquake in the Philippines.  A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol, Philippines, close to the major city of Cebu.  The team were on hand to quickly draw information from multiple sources, including from the US Geographical Survey (below).

Earthquake in Bohol, Philippines, Source: USGS

What is a ‘Data Scramble’?

Rapidly drawing map information from many sources is useful to help the internal Red Cross response to a disaster.  This is known as a ‘data scramble’ and involves a team of several people all looking at different sources to gather information.

US Government Shutdown Prevents Access to Disaster Data

Using Data for Disaster Maps

In the second week of my placement at the British Red Cross, I have been helping to make a flooding map of Southern Africa.  We have been marking out the areas affected by flooding, cyclone and cholera in Southern Africa in the past 5 years (see below).  As I mentioned last week, the GIS team support the work of the Red Cross both here in the UK and abroad.

Map to show the areas in Southern Africa affected by flooding, cholera and cyclones in the past 5 years

The map is to help the logistics team decide where to put equipment warehouses containing non-food equipment for disaster relief.  Other factors to consider include access to transport links and the political context.

Getting to the Heart of TBIF’s Social Value

I finally bid farewell to the team at the Big Issue Foundation a few weeks back, since which time I’ve been tinkering away at my final report. I’d wanted to get all my ideas nailed down before blogging my final post, hence why this one is coming a little late.

I had originally set out to calculate The Big Issue Foundation’s social return on investment, as explained briefly in my previous post. I started at TBIF with practically a layperson’s knowledge of their operations, being little more than an admirer of the magazine and its ethos. But over the course of the five or so weeks I spent working there, my understanding of how it functions and where it creates its social value developed greatly.

Mapping Disasters at the British Red Cross

This week, I started my placement at the British Red Cross in London.  The GIS team play an important and vital role here in the work of the British Red Cross, providing map services to the other departments.

At the start of the week, I joined a corporate strategy meeting and found out about the seven fundamental principles that guide the work of the Red Cross, which include neutrality and impartiality. British Red Cross strategy is formed through an inclusive process of stakeholder engagement.

Back at the GIS team, I have been getting to know the British Red Cross mapping tools and systems.

Some fantastic feedback!

Well it’s the end of the first week of the autumn term and all but one of the Charity Insights internships has come to an end. We have had some fantastic feedback from our charity partners. Here are just a selection of their comments:

“Will was an enthusiastic, well liked and respected member of the team. I think he exceeded expectations and that is in the light of having arrived with an excellent CV in the first place. The work he has undertaken with a creative, methodical and detailed approach on Social Return on Investment is invaluable.” Richard Mills, Big Issue

“Alex has been very enthusiastic, diligent and hardworking, and full of good ideas, and has been a real pleasure to work with.

End of a Fantastic Four Weeks

My fourth and final blog can only start one way, and that is by saying a huge thank you to all the staff at Blue Ventures and the people involved with Charity Insights at Imperial. It has been a memorable four weeks that I feel extremely privileged to have had. There is no doubt in my mind that the experience I have gained from this placement will impact my future career positively.

The last couple of days have been busy and it has been enjoyable seeing the project coming together. Furthermore, I discovered a great local café that do all day full English breakfasts that were great at helping me power through the work load.

Far from a blue venture…..

I am feeling extremely comfortable within the office now and powering on with the research project. The data collection is complete and I have begun the write up. My supervisor, along with the rest of the staff, has been very helpful and trusting of me, which has enabled me to feel part of the team.

The work Blue Ventures do in Madagascar is phenomenal. Prior to working in the London office, I was unsure exactly of the scale of proceedings, especially considering they have just celebrated their 10 year anniversary. It is clear the local communities are benefiting hugely from their involvement and I hope they will continue to expand at this current blistering rate.