A high-vis day out


It’s January, so what better pick-me-up than a team outing? Yesterday we took a trip to Bicester, shunning the outlet village in favour of Oxfam’s emergency warehouse. Since we all regularly work on emergency appeals and related materials, it was a really useful way to spend a couple of hours.

Our tour-guide/warehouse pro, Bob, kept us entertained with his brilliant anecdotes and impressed us with his evident passion for his job. As he showed us around the warehouse, we were all struck by the fact that it was a much smaller building, and home to a much smaller team, than we’d imagined would be needed to deal with the often large-scale disasters that Oxfam responds to around the world.

It was great to see all the kit – the clips, hoses, tanks, screws, bolts, corrugated sheets, valves, stopcocks, taps, pipes, bags and buckets – that help our engineers provide life-saving clean water around the world. But it wasn’t all about the boxes. It was also about the outside-the-box thinking that was clearly required to pull off the near impossible in unimaginable situations worldwide.

For example, Bob told us about the time Oxfam had to ship 8km of industrial-sized pipes out to a water project. The pipes were so large they needed to commission a plane with extra wide doors to fit it through. Since this was so expensive, when they next ordered piping they asked the company to wrap it into tighter rolls so that it would fit onto a standard plane. This worked pretty well until they opened it upon arrival in the field. It sprung open so quickly, because it had been wrapped so tightly, that it broke someone’s leg! Those extra large doors are now cheap at the price.

Aside from the chance to see immaculately-tailored Joe in a high-vis vest, our day at the warehouse revealed a wealth of untold heart-wrenching stories hidden inside the stacks of uniform boxes and tents. It was also a great opportunity for some of our team to try out their fancy cameras – see below for the results.