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The Value of Engagement

It is a tired cliché, when encouraging people to engage with something, that you only get out what you put in. But if you are looking for Team Rubicon to help restore your purpose and to be part of your community, then the rest of us can only help you if you take an active role.

And it is worth it.

Gordy and other Greyshirts having completed induction training in January 2017

I got involved with Team Rubicon in September last year, after my wife saw an article about Prince Harry in Nepal and knew that I was looking for a way to get back to service and duty. My first contact was an exercise for the Somerset County Council to test their flood response procedures. During that exercise, I mostly stayed quiet and asked lots of questions, but quickly decided that Team Rubicon was an organisation I would enjoy. So, I waited for the next time they contacted me so that I could help – and that was my first mistake.

In my civilian life (and for much of my military life too), I had got used to being told what was needed of me and then getting it done. But Team Rubicon does not have the resource to manage me – the other volunteers are busy with their lives and the full timers are busy fundraising, administrating and most of all running operations. The upshot being that I spent quite some time sat on my hands waiting for someone to manage me. It didn’t happen.

So, in January I had the epiphany that I would have to drive the engagement myself. I booked on to the next induction course at the end of the month. Induction makes you eligible for UK disaster response operations – the training includes a refresh of several of the skills that I had last used in the military as well as familiarising us with the team. One thing, in particular, that was covered was the need for international operators and Incident Management Teams. In my civilian life, I am a technical manager and so it seemed that might be suited to me. Luckily there was the first IMT training course the next week and I was allocated a space immediately. The course was a great opportunity to learn the Team Rubicon version of leadership as well as some of the key procedures and frameworks involved. Much more than that though.

I had now spent in the space of a few weeks about 10 days in the company of the full-time staff and other volunteers. That company reminded me that there were others like me and more so some of the US team were also there and I could see that we had a truly international affiliation. I was starting to feel useful; someone who could be an asset to my new friends.

During the course, I noticed that the network connectivity in the HQ complex was not that great – particularly in the training “Hangar”. Having a good working knowledge of computer networks from both my time as a Royal Signals Rupert and as a technical manager, I decided to fix that problem – in line with our basic Team Rubicon tenet “Get S*** Done”. I could make this decision because I felt included and I felt that way because I had engaged. The internet in the Hangar is now great.

Gordy and fellow Greyshirt John Turner-Bone on International Operators training in March 2017

Having felt so buoyed up by the courses I had been on and by giving of my own time to support that team, I immediately signed up for the International Operators course. That course was more like the military training I remember, but nonetheless I was working with team members that I had met on my other courses and some new faces. We all bonded really well and are still in regular contact through Facebook and Slack – I once again have a community of the likeminded.

Lately, I have been selected for an international deployment to the Philippines and have been appointed as the Plans officer. It was easy to volunteer for this job as having spent so much time with the team I knew what I was getting in to and I knew I could rely on their support. One big benefit to me is that I already know eight of the 11 people I will be deploying with and again this makes me feel safe and confident in what we can achieve.

In the last six months, I have invested a heap of time and effort in Team Rubicon, but that is paying me back with satisfaction and community. I could easily have not driven myself forward and I would still be waiting for someone else to tell me what to do. You too can be part of our great team and have opportunities to help people across the world, but you must decide to; you must decide to get active – sign up for something, respond and keep responding – we want to know you.


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