Briony Coulson


As trustee what is your role?

To help make OCA the best organisation it can be to deliver impact in Zambian rural communities on healthcare priorities. My role isn’t to get into the day to day decision making of the organisation, that’s the role of our brilliant and talented staff, but it’s to ensure that OCA is legally sound, delivers activities within budget and maintains its strategic direction. I also sit on the programme sub-committee where I work with OCA’s CEO Ben, healthcare staff and other trustees on OCA’s rural healthcare programmes. 

What do you do when you are not supporting On Call Africa?

I have been a Civil Servant for 13 years, working on international climate change and environment issues, 9 of those years have been managing UK aid programmes on natural resource management. I’m currently Head of International Sustainable Blue Finance at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) managing the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, a £500m programme to reduce poverty through sustainable management of the marine environment.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Outside of work, when I’m not engrossed in studying for my part time MSc Humanitarian Action at SOAS University, I love yoga as it’s important for my mental health, fussing over my two cats and hiking in the UK and overseas with my husband, Adam. 

Why is On Call Africa important to you?

I am a big champion for increased localisation of international development programmes. I fundamentally believe that we need to shift the power dynamics, use my voice to make space for others and that building capacity in communities to deliver local priorities is where the global development community needs to be. A lot of great progress has been by the global community in recent years but more needs to be done.

On Call Africa embodies localisation and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to be Trustee for OCA. I am also immensely inspired by the work we do on palliative care. End of life care is so important and I believe every person should have access to this.
Volunteers are very important but why should someone join our volunteer programme?

From a very personal perspective, there is little else that is as rewarding as volunteering. I believe the skills and knowledge you gain are invaluable, especially if you are pushed out of your comfort zone and challenged. I also think it’s important to give back to society and support those more vulnerable than yourself. 

What are you looking forward to most about being a trustee for On Call Africa?

Helping the organisation to grow and deliver impactful rural healthcare programmes by sharing my experience and expertise from working in international development within the public sector. I am also eager to get out to Zambia and learn more about the work of the organisation. There’s nothing more inspiring and educational than seeing how things work on the ground and I believe that will ultimately help me become a better Trustee.

When was the last time you visited Zambia, and what did you do during your time?

I visited Zambia about 11 years ago. It’s a beautiful country full of beautiful people. I’ll never forget the sunsets over the Zambezi, they were truly breathtaking. I came close to visiting again for work when I was managing a World Bank project on deforestation in the South Luangwa Valley but sadly the visit was delayed and I couldn’t attend. I’m desperate to get back out to Zambia and I’m hoping 2023 will be the year!