Interview: Adrian Thomas

The head of external relations at the British Red Cross tells Gemma Quainton about the charity's 150th anniversary campaign

Adrian Thomas
Adrian Thomas

- What is your role?

There are 22 of us in external relations, working on media, social media, PR and editorial, which includes online news stories and blogs. We also take in communities engagement, supporting dialogue with our beneficiaries both overseas and in the UK. We want their voice to be at the heart of our strategy.

- What campaigns are you currently working on?

We are in the middle of a concerted push to explain to the public what we are about. We want to show that our work with refugees, our social care support and our disaster response have a common thread. We refuse to ignore people in crisis.

About 150 years ago, the Red Cross movement was born out of war; in the 21st century, crises might come in many different shapes and forms, but the way in which we respond remains the same. We also want to show how our work in Syria has a link to the foundation of the Red Cross in the aftermath of war.

- What projects do you have in the pipeline?

This month we will be hosting a refugee camp recreation in The Vaults underneath Waterloo, London. It will be a 'total immersion' experience - we want to bring home to the public something of the reality of the refugee's plight. The event will also feature photography of our work with Syrian refugees in the UK by the photojournalist Paul Conroy.

- How important a role does comms play in highlighting the plight of those in need around the world?

It's essential. In today's highly scrutinised environment, with the demand for effectiveness, transparency and value for money, communications has to focus attention on what matters most, which is the reality of life for people at the sharp end.

- What advice would you give communications professionals starting out in the sector?

You should look at what you are good at and how that can contribute to the attainment of the organisation's goals.

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