Stepping away from the core

I just made some changes to the website of The Standby Task Force. Not, in itself, a very noteworthy action. But these particular changes are significant to me. Because today I removed myself from the Core Team page and added myself to the Coordinators page.

The Standby Task Force has what, in management speak, most people would call a “flat structure” in that it doesn’t really have much of a structure at all. Everyone is a volunteer and most of us do most of our volunteering when a significant disaster has occurred and we work together online to improve the picture that responders on the ground have of what is really happening. We use Slack to coordinate and Google Drive to collate data.

The Core Team is a small group of volunteers who try to keep the show on the road generally and take a lead in actual deployments. I’ve been a volunteer with the Task Force for some years but it was with some trepidation that I applied for a vacant position on the Core Team.

I joined at the start of 2015. Not long before we were activated for Vanuatu, then Federated States of Micronesia, then Nepal, then Refugees in Europe, then Refugees in Europe again.

2015 was a busy year.

I’ve struggled for some time to keep up my Core Team commitments. I’m trying to run a business and, increasingly, that has taken most of my time. But it is with great regret and some sadness that I have stepped down now.

I’m absolutely committed to the mission of Standby Task Force. I’m remaining a coordinator, I hope to play and active role in future deployments and I’ll be helping our with comms things where I can.

When I was thinking of writing this I imagined that I might make some sort of post outlining what I have learned and what I hope that people will learn from my experience. Maybe I will write that post one day. But now I am writing this I find that I really only want to do one thing.

I want to pay tribute to my colleagues on the Core Team.

The Core Team is a small collection of people from across the world. They have a range of backgrounds and experiences. They have a range of personalities. They have a range of skills and abilities.

And they have taken on a pretty tough volunteering role.

The Core Team often has to take significant decisions: whether to activate, what we should do if we do activate, when to stand down under enormous pressure whilst keeping volunteers supported and engaged, working with other humanitarian organisations and, lets face it, trying to earn money and be with their friends and families. Outside of deployments they are working to push forward the Standby Task Force, improve our training, keep volunteers engaged, build partnerships with other organisations across the world.

If you let it get to you it can be a frustrating and stressful role.

But, genuinely, I have found working in this team has never been frustrating and stressful. We have frequently disagreed but discussions have always been undertaken in a spirit of mutual respect. I cannot remember an occasion when we didn’t manage to reach a genuine consensus.

I’m sure sharing the values and mission of the SBTF have helped in building and supporting that team.

But honestly, trying to be objective about it, I think it’s really because they are all fundamentally good, decent, amazing people.

And I was proud to be part of their team.

And I am proud to be remain part of the organisation that they are the core of.