Standing Together for dignity, equality and justice
Louise Woodcock, Margaret Minoletti and myself attended this year’s Christian Aid Launch at Lower Marsh Street, near Waterloo Station on the afternoon of Thursday 7th February, along with a good
number of Christian Aid supporters from around the London area.
We were welcomed by Mark Sturge and Rosanne Venner, Deputy Head of the SE Region.
Andrew Barton, Director of Supporters and Community Partnerships then gave the Keynote Address. He told us £8.5 million had been raised during Christian Aid Week in 2018, with 57,000 volunteers
helping and 12,000 churches taking part.
Last year the focus had been on Haiti after the hurricane disaster there. This year’s campaign is focusing on Sierra Leone, in West Africa, one of the poorest countries in the world, with the theme around maternal health.
Around 1,360 women died there while giving birth last year, 150 times the equivalent number in the UK. Many nurses also died in the Ebola epidemic and one in nine children die each year there. The
richer countries need to Drop the Debt to release the government of Sierra Leone, so women can be helped to give birth safely and children can live longer. Sierra Leone is one of the most dangerous places to give birth, with ten pregnant women dying each day.
Christian Aid helps by getting more nurses trained and providing better health care.
Revd Kirkwood Cameron, a Methodist minister from a church in Tower Hamlets then told us about his sponsored walk in 2016, raising money for Christian Aid. He walked 73 miles along the Great Glen Way, from Fort William to Inverness and raised £2,500, showing how we can make a difference and also highlight the work of Christian Aid.
We heard that Christian Aid is the only charity which now has door-to-door collecting, as it is increasingly becoming more difficult.
Delivery-only envelopes are now being used, with people being encouraged to donate on-line or sign up for pay-roll giving. from wills or legacies are another important source of income which can be used to support women in countries like Sierra Leone.
Luke Harman, Christian Aid’s Campaign Officer next told us how the charity challenges power, with its Drop the Debt campaign, highlighting tax dodging and putting on marches such us the one for Land Rights in India.
In 2019 the main thrust will be on Climate Change - The Big Shift, trying to persuade big financial companies and banks such as HSBC, one of the largest banks in the world, to change their investments to environmentally friendly enterprises.
Throughout Lent this year, Christian Aid supporters will be visiting every HSBC branch in the UK, with their Big Shift message and there will be a Climate Change Mass Lobby on 26th June.
Neil Roger, Regional Co-ordinator for London then reminded us that speakers are always available to come to lead services in churches and talk about the work of Christian Aid. Volunteers are needed to go into schools to spread the message about our global neighbours and help can be given with that.
At the end of Christian Aid Week, on Sunday 19th June, there will a Circle the City sponsored walk, when all the churches in the City of London will be visited.
Before the end of the afternoon, we split into groups where we had some time to talk about our experiences of supporting Christian Aid and we were reminded of the resources which are available to us. The closing address was given Mark Sturge, before we went our separate ways.
It had been good to meet other supporters, to be enthused by the staff of Christian Aid and to be made aware of the work of the charity and how it sees the way forward.