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Eleven things about Team Rubicon you may not have known

What is Team Rubicon then?

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams worldwide.

What does the name mean?

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon at the head of his legions and marched on Rome, it marked a point of no return. The phrase ‘crossing the Rubicon’ survived when referring to any group committing itself to an irreversible course of action. In 2010, after an earthquake devastated the country, the founding Team Rubicon members crossed the Artibonite River separating the Dominican Republic and Haiti, carrying crucial gear and medical supplies to the people of Port-au-Prince. Once across, they were committed to their task. Hence the name: Team Rubicon.

Team Rubicon volunteers from several countries joined forces in August and September this year to assist with post-flood recovery in Louisiana.
Team Rubicon volunteers from several countries joined forces in August and September this year to assist with post-flood recovery in Louisiana

So, what’s the benefit of Team Rubicon?

Team Rubicon is a dual output charity. It benefits both the communities of the disaster areas we deploy to, and the armed forces veterans that volunteer with us. Veterans have skills and experience that makes them particularly suitable for work in disasters – the ability to work as a team, to get the job done, and to be able to operate in challenging environments. Veterans may also help run the operations room back at HQ, get involved in community service projects or just hang out with like-minded people. These activities can help to foster a sense of self-worth, community and purpose that many veterans lose after leaving the military.

All this means that every pound donated to us makes double the impact.

Who can be a member of Team Rubicon? Is it just for veterans?

No. Team Rubicon is a mixture of military veterans, first responders and awesome civilians. The diversity, flexibility and inclusivity of our membership is what makes Team Rubicon great. It’s all about finding the right role. You don’t judge a fish on how well it can climb a tree!

Team Rubicon members can join training weekends and meet other members.
Team Rubicon members can join training weekends and meet other members

Do your volunteers receive any training?

Training is really important at Team Rubicon. We currently run domestic training weekends which run from a Friday evening to a Sunday lunchtime and cover the fundamentals of Team Rubicon and our approach to disaster response within the UK. At the end of this weekend volunteers become Greyshirts, ready to deploy to domestic incidents.

We run these courses at our headquarters in Chilmark and we have recently delivered our first regional training event in Edinburgh. We are also starting to deliver further training in leadership and international operations.

Prince Harry joined Team Rubicon volunteers to work on a service project in Nepal in March 2016
Prince Harry joined Team Rubicon volunteers to work on Operation Nirman, our service project in Nepal in March 2016

What’s a Greyshirt?

Greyshirt is a term we give to trained volunteer members. At the end of the training weekend volunteers are presented with their Team Rubicon grey T-shirt, stencilled with their name – which they treasure and wear with pride.

How do you pick which disasters to respond to?

Our operations team are continuously monitoring disasters in the UK and around the world. They gather information from a variety of sources and if needed send a recce team to establish the needs of communities on the ground. Sometimes we will have trusted contacts in the country already who will assist with deciding whether the services we provide are appropriate for the disaster, and other times the scale of a disaster makes it clear that an immediate response is needed.

A small team travelled to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Matthew to assess the need for assistance.
A small team travelled to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Matthew to assess the need for assistance

What does sending a recce team mean?

A recce team means a reconnaissance team, which will normally consist of a small number of experienced Greyshirts. This team’s job is to get on to the ground quickly after a disaster, assess the scale of damage and work with local authorities, other NGOs operating in the country and communities to see if our help is needed. This is an important step, as this confirms if Team Rubicon can make a positive difference before we invest resources into a disaster response.

How do you work with other organisations whilst responding to a disaster?

We work with other organisations in the Cluster System, which means that we work with organisations rather than against them. Through collaborative working and information sharing, each organisation plays to their strengths and a greater impact can be made.

We also work to develop partners who we can help and who can add value to our response. Most recently in Haiti we partnered with Hope for Haiti who provided translators, in country advice and crucial local knowledge. We in turn provided assets such as technology, trained builders and chainsaw operators as well as materials.

Team Rubicon UK Chairman General Sir Nick Parker (right) joined Operation Wordsworth, our flood response in Keswick, Cumbria in December 2015.
Team Rubicon UK Chairman General Sir Nick Parker (right) joined Operation Wordsworth, our flood response in Keswick, Cumbria in December 2015.

Do you do any work in the UK?

We respond to disasters both internationally and in the UK. In December 2015, we deployed to Keswick and Tadcaster in response to severe flooding following storms. Through 2016 we have been working with local resilience forums around the UK and been involved in training and live exercises including the first major exercise in managing spontaneous volunteers in a flood response on the Somerset Levels.

What is the Support Squad?

The Support Squad is a crucial part of Team Rubicon. To be able to respond to disasters as and when they happen, we need financial reserves to enable us to do this. Through making a monthly donation, you help us make sure we are ready to respond to support both disaster hit communities and our community of veterans.

Sign up to join our Support Squad here, and see how far your support can go. After you’ve signed up we’ll send you a blue Team Rubicon T-shirt and then we’ll send you monthly updates on what’s happening at Team Rubicon and how your money is supporting our community of volunteers and our disaster response work.

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