'Ealth 'n' safety, guv (8 April 2017)

Over the last year or so I have been able to spend time in various countries; Bangladesh, the Philippines, Tanzania, Kenya. I did the visits as part of my consultancy work, doing evaluation and other projects for international development charities.

I was a VSO volunteer long ago, in the Philippines; and it was wonderful to be there again, and to see the family I used to live with, even if the circumstances - assessing the response to the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 - was grim.

Partly as a result of my experiences in the Philippines - living in a squatter area, working for a highly politicised trade union movement, occupying the streets with citizens who were overthrowing Marcos in the Peolle's Power revolution - I learned about risk; what I can do, what I can't, what I should. Most of all, I learned to know and trust people, especially poor people. I have always felt confident to be in slum areas, to be with people of all kinds.

I have had some dodgy moments, of course; a scam involving a man pulling a knife on me in the streets of Lima, and the suspiciously rapid appearance of two "policemen" to assist me, comes to mind! (I extricated myself by stating I didn't want to "press charges", and retreating rapidly).

In some of my recent trips, I have been accompanied for part of the time by London-based staff. I have noticed their nervousness: to stay in local hotels, to eat with ordinary people, to ride local transport, even for very short journeys, even in the middle of the day. For one organisation, being employed as a consultant was dependent on completing a "security self-briefing" online, which vetoed in theory many of the things I do as a matter of course, and which I both enjoy and which enable me to connect with people - and thus do my job.

I don't want to over-encourage risky behaviour, and I do understand, for example, the gender differences that impact on risk assessment. But do remember that challenging phrase: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

all the best

Graham

www.tigercoaching.co.uk - email: graham@tigercoaching.co.uk - tel: + (44) (0) 7890 360 806 - skype: tigercoaching1