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Foundation Training Programme: One induction – one Red Cross

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The British Red Cross is a complex organisation that works with people in crisis in a number of different sectors and has a national reach.  We deliver bespoke services that work with refugees and asylum seekers; people with health and social care needs; people in emergencies such as fires or floods; and more…  We developed the Foundation Training Programme to offer our people a single induction programme, to develop our shared culture and avoid working in silos.

The British Red Cross has been a leading humanitarian organization in the UK since 1870.  It is part of a global network of Red Cross/Red Crescent societies that work in conflict and in peacetime to support people in crisis.  The worldwide movement is made up of 190 national societies whose work is guided by seven fundamental principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Voluntary Service, Independence, Unity, Neutrality and Independence.  The British Red Cross has 4,000 staff and 20,000 volunteers.

Each year, we welcome on average 5,000 new people in to the organization. We have approximately 1,000 people working at our head office in London as well as staff and volunteers who are based at any of our 200+ locations across the country. Our main focus is operational; our aging UK population is facing a social care crisis and our teams provide vital support and care. We are also in the midst of the most significant refugee crisis since the Second World War so we are working to support refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, as well as challenging stigma and discrimination. In addition, the British Red Cross provides support to people in emergencies, provides first aid learning and cover for events and supports projects with our international partners.

The scope of our organization is vast, and we have a large number of different staff and volunteer roles. However, we wanted to develop an induction programme that would bring all our roles together with a shared sense of purpose and an understanding of how each person contributes to the bigger picture. In addition, we wanted to develop an induction that could replace the high number of small, distinct courses we had previously (Welcome Workshop, Safeguarding, First Aid, Health and Safety, CALMER etc…).

We developed the Foundation Training Programme in 2015. The programme consists of a short e-learning course that introduces participants to the organisation, our work in the UK and our place in the global movement. It also covers our compliance training in Health and Safety and Information Governance. The training concept is built around an emergency scenario so that participants can build the applied skills they need for their role. The e-learning introduces the characters and sets the scene. The rest of the programme consists of a 3 day, class-based course that is very interactive and immersive, and follows the story of the emergency the whole way through. This really brings our training to life and helps people understand our work.



The British Red Cross Foundation Training Programme has now been live for a year.  The impact of changing to a single programme has been huge.  Firstly, the average time it takes for a new volunteer to become fully trained and active has decreased from 8 weeks to 5 weeks, meaning that we can deploy people to support others in crisis quicker.  Secondly, we now retain 85% of our new volunteers after 5 months, compared to 75% previously.  These statistics demonstrate that having a single training programme has increased our retention and streamlined the induction process giving our volunteers a better joining experience.

Using scenario and video to encapsulate all aspects of work/services

culture,sense of belonging, understanding complex organisation, selling the mission