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Understanding Volunteering at Habitat

The research project "Understanding Volunteering at Habitat" is a collaborative project between Northumbria University's Centre for Global Development and the Volunteer and Institutional Engagement team at Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI). It is led by Professor Matt Baillie Smith, and more information about the research team is detailed below.

This collaboration aims to understand Habitat for Humanity’s volunteering strategies and the value of volunteers in the organisation, as well as how volunteer engagement can lead to greater programme impacts and sustainable development. It is primarily focusing on Habitat for Humanity’s global (non-US) work that integrates volunteering and volunteer engagement.

The project's activities include analysis of HFHI secondary data and relevant academic and policy literature, scoping interviews and participatory workshops with key Habitat informants, and an online survey to gather data on volunteering experiences from a broad range of Habtiat volunteer participants, both current and former. 

Research Team:

  • Prof Matt Baillie Smith - Research Lead, responsible for overall project management and strategic guidance, analysis and reporting: Matt is a Professor of International Development with 20 years’ academic and applied research experience in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, East and Central Africa. He has extensive experience of managing large multi-country research projects and supporting team members in global South settings, is a leading authority on volunteering in humanitarian and development settings, and works extensively in collaboration with global volunteer-involving organisations such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).

  • Dr Bianca Fadel - Co-researcher, responsible for research design, data collection, analysis and reporting: Bianca is a Research Fellow in International Development, with more than 8 years of experience in humanitarian diplomacy and development work in Latin America and East Africa, including policy-focused research and extensive stakeholder engagement. She has a PhD on volunteering in protracted crises, focused on Burundi, and has completed other funded research on volunteering in relation to humanitarian and development systems and livelihood strategies, including amongst displaced communities, and on the ways different volunteering modalities (community, national and international volunteers) can work together to improve development outcomes.

  • Maxine Mpofu  - Research Assistant, responsible for supporting data collection, processing and analysis, working closely with the Co-researchers: Maxine is a post-graduate researcher at Northumbria University with experience in research, advocacy and civil society development work. She has previously been part of multiple research consultancy project teams in Zimbabwe and research assistant positions in the UK. She worked at the headquarters of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement where she co-led the Global Youth Mobilisation initiative implemented by the Big Six Volunteering Youth Organisations in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • Nick Ockenden - Co-researcher, responsible for research design, data collection, analysis and reporting: Nick is an independent research, evaluation and strategy consultant with a specialism in international volunteering. He has worked in the sector for more than 18 years, including leading the UK’s Institute for Volunteering Research, heading up the research team of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, England’s largest membership body for the NGO sector, and project-managing North-South and South-South volunteering programmes in 12 different countries at ActionAid Denmark. He has also completed research, evaluation and strategy and foresight work for organisations including Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), United Nations Volunteers, the UK Department for International Development, Raleigh International, Intercultural Youth Exchange and Amnesty International. Most recently he worked with Forum and its members to collaboratively develop a strategic pathway for volunteering in development. 
  • Dr Moses Okech - Co-researcher, responsible for research design, data collection, analysis and reporting: Moses is an International Development professional with over 15 years’ experience in research and livelihoods programming. He has conducted development consultancies for international organisations that include The World Bank, Overseas Development Institute, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Bank of Uganda. He worked on the collaborative research project Refugee Youth Volunteering Uganda (RYVU) and previously served as the Technical Coordinator for Economic Recovery and Development at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Uganda.

For more information about the research, please contact Dr Bianca Fadel at Northumbria University, or Raaida Mannaa and Jay Ancheta at Habitat for Humanity.



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