​Kat (Thackray), from Zurich UK Life's Marketing team in Swindon,  is Assignee number 107 (not 007) on Zurich Community Trust's India programme.  Kat may well also be our last assignee unless a strategic need arises from one of our four NGO partners in southern India.
 
We are now coming to the end of the India programme and are in the process of evaluating the impact on the 12 partners we have worked with over this time as well as the impact on our assignees.  Our tapered funding support, however, continues until the end of 2017. We have also recently appointed a new consultant, the Alliance to Promote Abilities & Rehabilitation LLP (At Par) who are supporting Kat during her assignment.  More importantly, they are working closely with our four remaining NGO partners in Bangalore to find new funding sources and local volunteers as we complete our managed exit after 21 years. 

So is Assignee number 107 finding her feet in Bangalore?  Time to catch up with Kat who is working with charity partner, MAYA, on their communications strategy ....             

"If you turn right out of this hotel, then right again, first you'll go past a huge conference centre, then glitzy blocks of flats and local shops crammed in higgledy-piggledy against each other, into a huge road filled with vehicles, dust and noise. Turn right again, after no more than a few steps, and you head through a calm, brightly-painted neighbourhood, then past cows foraging in the piles of rubbish that fill empty lots, round another corner to the shop selling masala banana chips, and then finally over the cattle grid back into the hotel. You could do the whole trip in ten minutes.
 
There's no logic to Bangalore; it's an enormous city, getting even bigger, and the infrastructure just can't keep up. Everything seems to just happen where it happens. MAYA's office, for example, is above a car-repair shop and a food stall, shared with at least the HQ of an Ayurveda clinic and possibly another organisation too. There's a seemingly endless stream of visitors perched on the chair opposite the meeting space, tapping away on their laptops. MAYA, which aims to encourage preventative healthcare in the poorest communities, is at a really exciting stage, so there's a buzz in the office: the proof-of-concept has worked, and the tiny team are now full steam ahead working towards scale.  
 
The project they're working on is a mashup of social enterprise and preventative health. Local women are trained to provide a service screening for, and helping to prevent or manage, the diseases like diabetes that can be easily kept under control but can have a catastrophic impact on families if they're not. Non-communicable diseases like these are a huge and growing problem in India (65 million people are diabetic, and 1/3 of the population have hypertension), and these communities have no other access to the knowledge they need to avoid them or stop them escalating. 
 
           

The women, known as Health Navigators, are also trained in financial management and entrepreneurship, so that once the training phase has finished they can sustain their income using the business model MAYA has set up. There are currently 30 of these Health Navigators active, and the team hopes to reach 1,000 in the next five years, impacting a population of around 2 million.

I've come here from the UK Life Marketing team, where I'm part of the service design team, to help MAYA develop a digital-focused communication strategy that will support that goal. The MAYA team is filled with really fantastic people - passionate, experienced, clever, and with a huge network supporting them in all sorts of ways - but it's tiny, so their time is limited. This means my first week has been filled in equal parts with trying to get as much information on MAYA as possible, and also collecting all of the communication strategy documents that have been started but never quite finished. I'm looking forward to gluing the two lots together over the next few weeks!"