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E204 - Humanitarian aid with Bharpur Singh Gill

“The best way to make a difference in the world is with people” - Bharpur Singh Gill

In this small talk episode, we discuss Bharpur’s career journey which began by volunteering in the charity sector with a few different organisations before working in Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief. He has worked in a few different countries on a range of projects ranging from WASH, emergency aid, and livelihood projects. He has just finished an internship with United Nations Resident Office in Kuwait, working on Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, as well as simultaneously finishing his postgraduate degree in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton.

1. Bharpur's journey into the humanitarian aid sector

Studied mathematics and computer science. Then taught English in Thailand over a summer. After graduating did three months in Tanzania and wanted to find a paid job doing this. He started working with charities in the UK, first with Celiac UK. Bharpur is drawn more towards the project, rather than the country. Supported internal displaced people in Iraq.

2. Valuable learnings

Patience and flexibility are important skills for humanitarian aid as there's always going to be something that will go wrong, especially logistical problems Bharpur has previously felt he had to detach himself from the situation as he has had to make tough decisions, making decisions on the facts at hand rather than the people he's been working with.

Action research has allowed Bharpur to explore the gaps between academia and real-world issues. Implementing co-production with the communities in Turkey has enabled them to work together to find creative and innovative solutions. True collaboration and enabling the community to directly influence projects is the best way to bring about success. It’s clear that the people affected by an issue are the experts, and although historically charities have had a top-down approach when it comes to commissioning new projects, it’s great to see that this colonial legacy is fading away in favour of a person-first approach.

3. Getting into a career in humanitarian aid

If you're interested in a career in humanitarian aid, Bharpur recommends visiting Redr for training courses and Relief Web, where you can find international job posts. Volunteering is also a great way to gain experience in working abroad and finding out what you enjoy.

This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good. Work for Good believes everyone should be able to turn the work they do into good. Through their fundraising platform, they offer charities a way to engage and work with small businesses, including founders, owners and sole traders who want to make an impact for charities through their sales. To find out more, please visit

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E151 - Serving communities with David Tyrone Christie -

E149 - Supporting Humanity with Idris Patel -

E110: Philanthropy - From Aristotle to Zuckerberg with Paul Vallely -


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