International NGO Safety Organisation

Meet INSO

Stuart

Function: Training Manager
Location: Hargeisa, Somaliland
Nationality: British

Stuart, INSO Training Manager in Hargeisa, Somaliland, spent 30 years working with the Kent police force followed by more than two decades in a variety of roles in Africa and further afield.  After so long with the police, he thought nothing would surprise him anymore. But INSO has proved him wrong.

What does a day in the life of your current role as Training Manager with INSO look like?  

Pre- and post-course delivery is hectic – it’s a lot of working with our Safety Advisors, as well as the operational support teams. INSO’s senior managers are always supportive of the Training Team, which is essential for good coordination and maintaining professional standards. 

There is very little downtime between courses due to tight schedules. But that’s when Khayre, Training Officer, Hamda, Training Assistant, and I get to do our favourite part of this work: meeting our partners, interacting with our trainee participants on the courses and even travelling to other training venues in-country. 

You have a very impressive and lengthy professional background. Can you tell us about it?  

After a 30-year career with the Kent force,  I retired with the rank of Chief Inspector in 1997 and was a civilian press and media relations officer for two years. 

The next 22 years were spent in and out of Africa working on a variety of projects. In May 2006, I was appointed as Police Project Manager with a United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) programme in Somalia. I established police training schools and worked partly in Kampala, developing police training with the Ugandan Police for Somali senior officer cadets. 

In January 2011, I joined NGO Safety Programme (NSP) as Training Manager in Nairobi, Kenya, inheriting a well-established course: Hostile Environment Individual Safety Training (HEIST). I also developed Senior Management, Crisis Management and Personal Safety Training courses – now key elements of our training portfolio. I also had the pleasure of working with INSO training teams in Nigeria and South Sudan.   

In early 2015, at the same time as NSP was absorbed by INSO in 2015, my team and I faced challenges that lead to a break in training delivery. I returned to full-time training delivery in Hargeisa in April 2017. 

From April 2019 to April 2021, for several reasons including COVID-19, I excelled as house husband while my wife was on the frontline with our local hospital in the United Kingdom. I returned to Hargeisa in May 2021 and now work alongside two great local staff on a training delivery schedule which keeps me fully engaged and energised. 

I will finally retire at the end of 2022.  I’ll be 75 in October and the time is right to make way for the younger generation. When I hear my well-meaning nickname BBC, Born Before Computers, it is another hint! 

What surprises you most about being a Training Manager, and INSO?  

After a 30-year police career, I thought nothing would surprise me. I couldn’t have been more wrong! In general terms, my African experience has been fantastic and that has continued with INSO.  

While INSO has a global and ever-expanding footprint, it must by necessity be professionally and ethically run.  To me, INSO fits that profile but – most importantly – INSO maintains the feeling of family for staff and their families. It is the people that make INSO so well-respected within the humanitarian community, and with donors and authorities. 

Can you tell us about a moment in your time with INSO that stands out? 

One of my HEIST graduates from early 2012 was kidnapped, along with two colleagues, shortly after my training. They spent 23 months in the bush before being released. My former student is now a regular presenter on our Crisis Management course and credits INSO’s HEIST training with helping her to survive. I feel proud that my team and I helped her to get through that ordeal. 

As a Training Manager, alongside my team, it is important to give trainees the knowledge, awareness, and skills to operate safely and securely in challenging circumstances. 

Do you have a message for someone who is considering joining INSO? 

Working for INSO provides an opportunity to work in challenging locations and environments, to work with great colleagues, partners and beneficiaries, and to open your eyes to how important it is to support the NGO humanitarian community in a hostile environment. 

We are an NGO for NGOs – it is who we are, it is what we do!