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About us

The Humanitarian Centre is an innovative international development network that enables the discovery of new ways of tackling some of the most complex and intractable aspects of global poverty.

It does this by creating unique cross-fertilisations between Cambridge’s world-class academic minds and the region’s dynamic development practitioners working on the ground. To this powerful combination, the Centre adds partners from Cambridge’s vibrant business, IT, not-for-profit and government sectors to develop workable solutions.

A cross between a ‘think tank’ and ‘meeting place’ for international development, the Centre is a highly-effective catalyst: it creates dozens of opportunities each year for over 40 specialist bodies working in international development to meet and foster new ways of thinking. It puts ideas into practice, and feeds practice back into ideas.

Solutions that resulted from recent Humanitarian Centre activities include: a tool that uses fingerprints to accurately locate the medical records of migrant communities (now at prototype stage); strategies for reducing non-communicable diseases (recently presented in the UK Parliament); a radio project that gives the people of Africa a continent-wide voice on critical issues that matter to them.

The Centre also provides resources and support to 40 member organisations, such as training in marketing, managing volunteers and monitoring and evaluation. 

Our History

The Humanitarian Centre emerged in 2006 following a collaboration between international development charities, NGOs and student societies, predominantly associated with the University of Cambridge. As opportunities for cooperation between the group increased, the value of a central focal point in Cambridge for this work became more recognised.

With the generous support of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust, a staff position was established in September 2006, coinciding with a decision by the University of Cambridge to support the Humanitarian Centre through use of rooms at the Fenner’s Sports Centre.

Without the commitment and hard work of individuals, this work would not have been possible. The Humanitarian Centre is also extremely grateful to the following organisations for their support:

National Philanthropic Trust (core costs), ARM (ICT4D year), Costello Medical Consulting (Global Health Year), PLoS (Global Health Year), PhG Foundation (Global Health Year), Astra Zeneca (Global Health Year), University of Cambridge Society Syndicate, Isaac Newton Trust, Cambridge RAG, Education Services, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Assessment, and a number of Cambridge Colleges.

Finding Us

Emmanuel United Reformed Church
72 Trumpington Street

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During the Fair Shares Café opening hours (Tues-Fri, 10:30 am-3 pm), get to us by going through the café, bearing right down the hallway, and up the spiral stairs between the two sets of Church Hall doors. We are in the office on the mezzanine to your left at the top of the stairs.

Outside of café opening hours, please ring the front door bell or give us a ring on the office phone for access.




Cycle parking can be found outside of the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, in the 16a Mill Lane car park, and on nearby roads. The Grand Arcade Cycle Park, a purpose build, secure cycle parking facility, is nearby on Corn Exchange Street.


The UNI 4 bus from Madingley Road Park & Ride and Addenbrooke’s Hospital stops in front of Emmanuel United Reformed Church on Trumpington Street. The Trumpington Park and Ride also stops here.


The nearest railway station is Cambridge (approx. 20 mins walk), with taxis and frequent buses to the city centre.

Car Parking

The centre of Cambridge and the area around Emmanuel United Reformed Church are subject to vehicle restrictions. The nearest public car park is the Grand Arcade on Corn Exchange Street. Limited Pay and Display and Blue Badge holder parking is available nearby on Trumpington Street.


The Humanitarian Centre runs a number of email bulletins that include information about:

  • A fortnightly email digest of development-related events in Cambridge.
  • A monthly bulletin with news about the Humanitarian Centre and its membership organisations.
  • Volunteer opportunities in Cambridge and overseas.

To join any of these mailing lists, please sign up here.