Manchester Calling

The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Kate is an MSc in International Disaster Management student. Originally from Scotland, Kate moved to Manchester in 2019 to start her degree. Below she discusses her motivations for studying and her volunteering work in Manchester.

Towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I started looking for volunteering opportunities within the humanitarian sector. This was when I first got involved with Save the Children and became a volunteer speaker, which involves going out to local schools, businesses or community groups to raise awareness and support for their work.

Kate Ness

After finishing my undergraduate degree in 2017, I took some time out to go travelling and volunteer as a freelance translator for the International Network of Street Papers. It was during this time I also decided I wanted to take a master’s degree.

I found out about HCRI after some research online. I’d been looking for a programme related to humanitarianism and human rights and found that the MSc in International Disaster Management combined both practical disaster recovery as well as the humanitarian aspect. I was ecstatic when I received my offer and started planning my move from Glasgow to Manchester.

Since starting the master’s programme in September, it’s really opened my eyes to the scale of crises and disasters across the world, as well as the role that ethics and critical analysis play in the role and function of humanitarians. So far I’ve taken some fascinating modules, including Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Humanitarian Crises and Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: Inquiries. I’m also taking a politics module which looks at human rights in world politics, it’s great that there is the flexibility across subject areas, as it allows you to tailor your degree to your interests.

I’ve carried on with my Save the Children role in Manchester, which fits in well alongside my study. I find the role challenges me to consider how to engage different groups on the subject on humanitarianism, and I can bring in elements from my degree. Part of the role is researching and creating presentations and activities to use when I present. One activity that I take to schools involves bringing a number of items a child might have (teddy bear, toothbrush, pocket money, food, clothes etc) and a bag. I then ask children to choose what they would take if they had to leave home quickly, but that they’d have to carry the heavy bag a long way. This helps show children the realities faced by those fleeing conflict and enables them to connect with the subject.

Alongside Save the Children, I’ve recently started volunteering with the British Red Cross on local refugee case work support. Each week I help run a local clinic where refugees can access support in navigating UK systems and paperwork.

Volunteering alongside my studying is not only rewarding on a personal level but is helping me build a humanitarian network as well as connect with the local community. Eventually I’d like to work in asylum case work within legal aid, but I would need to get a legal qualification first.