Humanitarian and community development consultancy services


My name is Sarah Packwood and I am a Humanitarian Intuitive based on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada.

What is a humanitarian intuitive?

Humanitarian  (hjuːˌmæn.ɪˈteə.ri.ən) (n)

– a person who is involved in or connected with improving people’s lives and reducing suffering.

Intuitive (ɪnˈtu·ə·t̬ɪv)

– knowing or perceiving by intuition or insight

I am an independent humanitarian and community development consultant (sole trader) with over 26 years experience of designing and managing multi-sectoral emergency relief, early recovery, community development and disaster risk reduction programmes in Africa, Europe, Asia and Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and urban regeneration initiatives in the United Kingdom.

I am also a competent trainer in the protection of civilians in disaster and conflict settings, disaster risk reduction, rapid scale-up of emergency response and inter-agency coordination.

This experience comprises:

  • Operational leadership roles in the field, in medium-long term deployments and shorter assignments in numerous countries to set up emergency response and disaster risk reduction programmes either directly or with local partner organisations;
  • Head office emergency management and technical advisory roles including direct operational (remote) management as well as technical and capacity building support to international offices and partner organisations;
  • Inter-agency Coordination roles as a senior technical expert seconded into UN Country Teams and working across UN agencies, Government, INGO and NGO partners to strengthen capacity;
  • Independent humanitarian and community development consultancy roles including providing technical expert input to capture and update technical guidelines, assess proposals for multi-million-dollar grants and capacity building assignments to design bespoke training and learning packages for UN agencies with global reach.

My key strengths

Connected – Network facilitator and partnership builder. 

I tune in to any culture and build solid working relationships with a diverse range of actors. My intuitive ability to connect people up with projects and organisations is expressed through a large network of international professional contacts. 

Developer – Leader, mentor and coach.

I am passionate about nurturing human potential in the people I work with. My goal is to help them overcome barriers, recognise and play to their strengths, be stretched and experience success. 

Empathy – Motivator and encourager. 

My instinctive ability to understand and be sensitive to the emotions of other people, enables me to draw out the best in individuals and teams, creating space for them to find their voices and be heard.

Positivity – Pragmatic optimist.

I look for the positives in any situation and in the people, I work alongside. I bring enthusiasm and energy to teams, fledgeling networks, projects and initiatives and remain pragmatic when seeking win-win outcomes in challenging environments.

Strategist- Designer and coordinator.

Seeing the bigger picture, I spot patterns, opportunities and potential challenges. My goal is to assist clients in planning the route ahead, taking these factors into account so they can build a consensus for change, adapt to new circumstances and achieve great results.

Countries I have worked in

I have worked in Bangladesh, Barbados, Bolivia, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

How I work

Valuing the power of appreciation, accompaniment, co-creation and walking in solidarity with partners to navigate change, adapt in uncertain environments and discover win-win outcomes;

Bringing a pioneering approach, an ability to see and realise connections in strategic planning, people management, coordination, networking, training, sharing learning and a dedication to cross-cultural engagement that has enabled me to tune in to any culture.

Thriving in challenging situations, where my judgement, analytical, diplomacy and negotiation skills achieve high outputs within tight deadlines.

Building and strengthening successful partnerships and working relationships with community members, UN agencies, NGOs, donor agencies and philanthropists, government agencies and military actors.

Coordinating diverse groups of stakeholders to avoid duplication, find innovative solutions to problems, ensure inclusion, develop capacity and match availability of resources to prioritised needs.

My clients

My clients are diverse, ranging from international and national organisations, such as Non-Governmental Organisations, Social Enterprises, United Nations, Government Donors and Institutions to passionate individual academics, humanitarians, community activists and social entrepreneurs.

Recent clients include the Education Cannot Wait Fund (Global Partnership of Education at the World Bank), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Project Concern International (PCI), the Cambridge Centre for Applied Research into Human Trafficking (CCARHT), Corus International, ChildFund Alliance and private academic clients. I have recently completed a research consultancies for CIVICUS and ChildFund Australia on the topics of civil society resilience and localisation respectively. My most recent client is Plan International.

What I offer you

I offer unique, bespoke packages of support, which may include any one or a combination of the following:

  • Facilitating strategic planning and organisational development;
  • Providing technical input for a robust programme or project design in emergency response, early recovery, disaster risk reduction and community development settings;
  • Researching cross-cutting themes, such as protection, localisation and resilience using a variety of methods including rapid desk reviews and participatory techniques to provide insights for organisational strategic development;
  • Reviewing and giving a constructive critique of project and programme proposals and monitoring and evaluation processes;
  • Providing tailored training in the protection of civilians, community development, disaster risk reduction and upscaling emergency response. This includes carrying out learning needs assessments and designing and delivering self-learning modules and workshop-based training materials;
  • Conducting powerful coaching and mentoring of national and international staff and team building;
  • Giving guidance for successful partnership development and management;
  • Connecting people, ideas, projects, organisations and initiatives;
  • Copywriting, editing and proof-reading support for a variety of outputs and audiences, including handbooks, policy briefs, technical profiles, reports and academic articles for journals;
  • Collecting and curating key resources relevant to your projects, programmes and learning initiatives

A top tip from a free-range Humanitarian


My daily consultancy fees are on a sliding scale and negotiable depending on the type of client, complexity and duration of assignment and budget available.

Do feel free to contact me for an initial chat about how we can work together and I can give you an idea of costs.

Coming soon…

To give back to the Humanitarian Aid Sector, I am very keen to offer my support to increasing the wellbeing other humanitarian aid workers, who may be at pre or post-mission stages, feeling tired or burned out or going through a period of transition and wondering what to do next.

I plan to do this through individual coaching and small, bespoke, tailored healing and wellbeing retreats on Salt Spring Island.  I am interested in collaborating with other wellbeing practitioners to co-create these, especially if they, too were or still are humanitarians. If any of this resonates with your heart then drop me a line!

Contact me

Related blog pages and posts:

Confessions of an aid worker

My first impressions of a refugee camp, 25 years ago