To mark the 60th Christian Aid Week, St Paul’s
will once again be giving its collection money to this vital cause.
At every Evensong service from 14 - 20 May, all money donated will go directly to Christian Aid, as well from the Cathedral's collection
The vital efforts of Christian Aid will also be mentioned during prayers across the week.
Christian Aid Week is Britain’s longest-running fundraising week and has been a firm fixture in the calendar of many thousands of people each year
since 1957. It is famous for the distinctive envelope that drops through the letterboxes of millions of homes each May, and for the massive impact
that the week has made in the fight to end the scandal of poverty around the world.
St Paul’s Cathedral is pleased and proud to support Christian Aid week and encourages you to join us. We hope and pray that Christian Aid Week will
be successful in alerting the world to the changes that must be made to many people’s lives in our world and celebrate Christian Aid’s vital and
practical contribution to that change.
To mark this year's Christian Aid Week, hundreds of people will take part in Circle the City, a sponsored walk through the City of
On Sunday 21 May from 1pm (registration from 12.15pm), more than 500 people will join the 3 or 6 mile walks to help Christian Aid fund its
continued vital work around the world.
This walk is the finale in London of Christian Aid Week. The route starts at St Mary-Le-Bow on Cheapside and includes St Paul's as well as some of
the beautiful, and often hidden churches in the City of London.
Everyone is welcome to take part.
St Paul’s was delighted to welcome Christian Aid’s Chief Executive, Loretta Minghella to preach at St Paul’s in May.
Afterwards she took time to answer questions posed by Tricia Hillas, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s.
60 years ago the first Christian Aid week was launched – how and why did this come about?
Christian Aid is now over 70 years old. We started our work at the end of the Second World War. In response to a broken Europe and the huge amount
of people who had been displaced by fighting and who had been through so much trauma, the churches in Britain and Ireland decided that they needed
to be part of the rebuilding of Europe. So they got together and said, ‘At this moment of celebration, let’s also raise money for people who need
it and enable work to start for refugees across Europe’.
So, we began by working for the benefit of refugees after the war, and now we find ourselves once again working for refugees in Europe. What is
more, after some years the churches realised that the need wasn’t just in Europe, it was beyond Europe, there were terrible injustices and
inequalities and the scourge of poverty permeated right across the world. Churches wanted to reach out and help but realised that it would require
very significant additional resources. It was my great predecessor Janet Lacey, I’d love to have met her, an amazing woman, whose idea it was to
set up this special week where people would go house to house, knocking on doors and saying ‘Will you help the world’s poorest people?’
What I think is great about Christian Aid Week is that it allows us to demonstrate that our faith is not just a feeling, it’s not just an idea, it
propels us to act, to follow Jesus to the poor and the marginalised and say to them ‘You count, you matter, you’re not alone, and we will walk and
work alongside you for your dignity and for your peace and for justice for all.
That’s why Christian Aid Week is about joining together, often having fun as we raise awareness, pray and fundraise but also about saying poverty
is wrong, it’s a scandal we can do something about. We can be part of the hope; we can be part of the solution.
What difference have the successive Christian Aid weeks made?
If you go back 50 years the scourge of poverty affected so many more people. I’ve only been in post these last 7 years but when I came into post
1.4 billion people in the world were living below the extreme poverty line. Today that figure’s down to 700 million, so together we are making huge
inroads. This has involved a concerted effort on the part of so many, including governments and a range of aid agencies and not just Christian Aid,
but our supporters can be really proud of the difference that we’ve made in the life of people in poverty. The money raised in Christian Aid Week
plays a hugely important role in enabling us to play our part in tackling poverty in nearly 40 countries across the world.
You’ll probably know we’ve been able to mount exceptional humanitarian responses, whether to the famine in East Africa during the 1980’s and the
Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, the Haiti earthquake of 2010 or Typhoon Haiyan, which struck in the Philippines in 2013. Right now we’re responding to
famine and hunger crises in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Northern Nigeria.
Those are examples of large scale emergencies that we’ve responded to, but we’ve also sought to help people stand on their own two feet in the
longer term and fought for political change when the causes of poverty go beyond the emergencies, and drive great injustice for the world’s poor.
We were part of the battle against apartheid in South Africa. In recent years, we focused heavily on climate change, for example, which wreaks
havoc on the world’s poorest people. We, with our supporters, fought so hard for the UN Paris agreement on Climate Change and we are now trying to
encourage the big shift that’s required away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. Why? Because climate change affects the world’s poorest
the hardest. Wherever I go on Christian Aid’s work, I consistently see the damage that climate changes does to the world’s most vulnerable people,
who have no safety net, who have no buffer when the typhoons come, when the drought strikes.
I also see the scourge of inequality experienced by women and girls, the vulnerability of women and girls who have so much to offer, who deserve
their dignity and yet who are not respected and honoured equally the way they should be and who are not given the chances that men and boys are
given. And I see the damage that is done by financial systems which do not harness the world’s taxes for the world’s poorest. These are things that
Christian Aid has been battling for on behalf of those who are most vulnerable and it’s the support of our amazing supporters around Britain and
Ireland that’s made all of this work possible over the last 70 and more years.
60 years is a long time, a life-time – why do we still need Christian Aid and particularly Christian Aid Week – what is the relevance for
today? Why haven’t the problems been sorted out yet?
Why do we still need Christian Aid today? Because it’s shocking that in the 21st century anybody should be living in extreme poverty, never mind
700 million people in the world. Because we see the consequences of that poverty in individual lives. The very first trip I went on for Christian
Aid I met a wonderful young woman who shared with me that she was so poor that she was contemplating trading her virginity to be able to afford to
bury her own father. That is what poverty looks like and what it means.
Because poverty isn’t just about stuff, it is really driven by inequality of regard, by discrimination against people on the grounds of their
gender, their colour, their nationality, their faith, their sexuality, their disability, it’s driven by all kinds of discriminations which are
profoundly wrong and until we overcome that sense that some people are inherently better than others. Until we truly understand that we are all
equal, that we are all made in the image of God, there will always be poverty and we will always need to fight it.
This is why it was so important that in 2015, at the United Nations, 193 countries signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals. One of the
cornerstone ideas in the goals is that we should eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, leaving no-one behind. We’ve made a lot of progress, we know
what sorts of things need to happen; now we need to get on and do them.
What difference do you hope that this year’s Christian Aid week will make?
This year we are celebrating 60 years of Christian Aid Week, a Diamond Jubilee. We want to acknowledge those gems, those really wonderful people
who have toiled for Christian Aid over so many decades, showing us how to be part of the solution to the challenges of extreme poverty and
suffering in our world. So one things I hope will come out of this Week is recognition of their work and the wonderful vocation they have.
In financial terms we hope to raise at least 10 million pounds which will help us to make a huge difference across the world in the fight against
poverty. More and more emergencies are cropping up. Some of them are the very big ones which you will see on the television, maybe they will be
accompanied by a Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal, but there are also many smaller ones. For smaller emergencies, for our on-going development
work and for our advocacy and campaigning against the structures and systems which keep people poor, we need so desperately those good strong
income generating moments like Christian Aid Week that help us keep going.
The donations in terms of money are obviously vital but the prayer that comes through Christian Aid Week is also hugely important. I know from
speaking to many people in poverty around the world that knowing they are being prayed for just means so much and knowing that we are in solidarity
with them means so much. For example, I’ve just come back from South Sudan, a place that has been struggling with a civil war since 2013, with
millions of people displaced. The people I met were so grateful to know that we care, the fact that people are praying for them means a huge
amount, over and above the practical support.
And the 3.6m people displaced by fighting in South Sudan are just a small minority of the people, 65m of them, who are displaced in our world, who
do not have a safe place to call home. We hope this Christian Aid Week to remind people that we didn’t turn our backs in 1945 and we’re not turning
our backs now. We can all be part of the answer for these people through our giving and actions and prayers. All these people are made in the image
of God; they all deserve a place at the table.