Volunteering at the Centre for Global Equality

2021 volunteer

Rachael Bright (2020, Business Studies)

From 5 July to 20 August 2021, I had the privilege of volunteering with the Centre for Global Equality (CGE). This small Cambridge-based charity supports an ecosystem of engineers, technicians, students and others to deliver life-changing development projects. Their work is currently focused in Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos and India, while supporting projects in many other parts of the globe.

My role at CGE was to support the organisation’s communications activities. In doing so, I hoped to learn more about international development, and about the types of challenges and triumphs faced by organisations in this sector. I visited the CGE office on my first day of volunteering to meet Kelsea Pastore, the Communication and Partnerships Advisor, and to receive an orientation. After that first day, I returned home and carried out the rest of my volunteering remotely.

I began with CGE’s main website, carrying out a full page-by-page audit to suggest improvements to the information architecture and content, before reviewing and updating the Cultivator Toolkit website, which provides helpful information and resources to members of their Cultivator programme. This programme supports start-up ventures and projects to grow their initiatives in the developing world. An example Cultivator member is Ideabatic; the team there have developed a cooling system for vaccines that can be worn as a backpack and transported by foot over rugged terrain, preventing vaccine spoilage.

I also worked in depth on the Oxygen and Ventilator System Initiative (OVSI) website, revising and publishing content, and addressing some of the key usability issues that had been identified. The teams at OVSI are developing life-saving oxygen equipment which is more suitable for developing contexts. Their oxygen concentrator is designed to cope with fluctuating electricity and harsh environmental conditions, and can be repaired using locally available parts. In carrying out this work, I gained insight into the wide range of stakeholders CGE collaborates with in its various projects.

Beyond web editing and usability, I helped promote a Kenya-based agritech online workshop via CGE’s social media channels and Eventbrite, and got to attend part of that workshop online. I created a template so that CGE’s stakeholders could be guided on how to share their successes with the organisation for broad promotion. I looked through funding databases to help strategise how CGE could keep track of upcoming opportunities. I got to attend weekly meetings with CGE’s team of four, a reading group where the team discussed topical themes, and online social catch ups; I also had multiple one-on-one meetings with the team, including CEO Lara Allen.

In speaking to Lara, I gained insight into the pressures of being a small charity and wanting to undertake both activities which can easily attract funding and those which may not, but are still very worthwhile. I had many productive conversations with Kelsea on how CGE communicates and what it aims to achieve. Our discussions about different types of website platforms assisted Kelsea in selecting a tool for the new CGE website, which will be launched soon. I also worked closely with Andrew, the Operations and Finance Manager, on the OVSI website. While I didn’t directly work with Beth, the Country Programme Manager for Climate Compatible Growth, I enjoyed getting to know her and learning about her start up which provides better climate change education materials to children in schools.

I felt very welcome at CGE – like a member of the team. So apart from learning a lot about the charity sector and international development, I also got to work with some very awesome people. I plan to stay in touch with the team at CGE to continue learning from and supporting them once I am back in New Zealand.

I would like to sincerely thank the Trinity Hall Association for supporting me to undertake this volunteering experience. It has been truly valuable in helping me as I shift towards a career in social impact.