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Christian Aid

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CA
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Christian Aid
Date(s): Created c1946-1985
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 508 boxes
Name of creator(s): Christian Reconstruction in Europe
British Council of Churches | Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service
Christian Aid


Administrative/Biographical history:

During the Second World War, British and Irish Churches founded an organisation called Christian Reconstruction in Europe, which was a united effort to raise funds to aid in the rebuilding of Europe when the War ended. They raised one million pounds through collections, and began their work of refugee relief and resettlement. In 1948, this work became part of the British Council of Churches, and was known as the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service. Refugee relief continued to be a major issue for both national and international organisations, and at the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1954 it was acknowledged that the work of the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service was of lasting value. Over the next decade the focus of their work was to shift towards world-wide development issues.

In 1957, Janet Lacey, Director of the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service, decided to hold a 'Christian Aid Week' to encourage wider public awareness and support. 26,000 was raised throughout Britain, and Christian Aid Week was to become an annual event. In 1964, the agency changed its name to Christian Aid, to identify with this success.

Between 1960 and 1964, the 'Freedom from Hunger Campaign' focused aid on increasing food production in the poorest regions of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and the Caribbean. By 1970, the organisation was funding over 100 development projects in 40 countries. It had also established the World Development Movement to address the issues of poverty. Major projects in the 1970's included response to drought in India and famine in East Pakistan and the Sudan. In the 1980's, projects included the provision of emergency food and medical supplies to Ethiopia. In the 1990's, projects included emergency appeals for the crises in Rwanda, Montserrat, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia; highlighting the problems of the child sex industry in South-East Asia and child labour in Pakistan; and campaigning for fair trade and an end to Third World debt. Today, Christian Aid funds 700 local organisations in over 70 countries.

Christian Aid has no representatives overseas or projects of its own. It works entirely through local structures, mainly churches or voluntary organisations, and relies on regional screening of projects by experts. It also co-operates closely with the world-wide network of Christian churches and Councils centred on the World Council of Churches in Geneva. Christian Aid believes that this approach encourages the idea of partnership and development in its own right. Although originally established for relief work, Christian Aid believes that whatever aid comes from outside, long-term development can only come from within a society.

Christian Aid is a registered charity. Constitutionally, it is a division of the British Council of Churches (BCC), which itself is composed of delegates appointed by member churches and Christian bodies. Christian Aid's mandate is to act as the overseas agency of these member churches and to provide concerted action in the areas of relief and development. It is directly accountable to the Assembly of the BCC, which also appoints Christian Aid's Director and Board.

The Board appoints Regional Committees, each responsible for making grants to programmes and projects in the main regions: Africa; Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Middle East. There is also a committee that makes grants to projects in Europe and to global programmes operating in more than one of the main regions.

Christian Aid is an ecumenical organisation. Although the Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the British Council of Churches, there is a close association between Christian Aid and the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD).

Fund-raising is largely through local congregations and groups whose denominations are represented on the British Council of Churches, and also from the general public. In the event of emergencies, where relief cannot be sought from local churches Christian Aid is able to make money available through the International Red Cross, United Nations agencies and other sources. In major emergencies, the five main overseas aid agencies (Christian Aid, the British Red Cross, CAFOD, Oxfam and Save the Children Fund) are able to make a television appeal to the nation as the United Kingdom Disasters Emergency Committee. Both the BBC and ITV give their services free. In these combined appeals, each agency receives one fifth of the total amount of money raised and sends money and supplies through its own channels to the disaster area.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records, c1946-1985, of Christian Aid and its predecessors, comprising correspondence, minutes and reports concerning aid projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean; papers of the Directorate including constitutional material, committee minutes of the British Council of Churches, and Christian Aid Board papers; organisational material including correspondence with other fund-raising bodies such as Oxfam, the Red Cross, and a selection of Christian Aid publicity material including Annual Reports.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The papers from the first and second deposit follow the same organisational principles, and use a uniform referencing system. Files are listed by regional area in the following order (with letter codes): Africa (A), Asia/Pacific (C), Europe/UK (E), Global (F) and Middle East (H). Within each region, papers are arranged according to individual countries. Papers relating to organisation (I), directorate (D) and publications (J) are arranged as separate categories. Papers from the third deposit are also arranged by regional group, but as follows: Africa and the Middle East, Asia/Pacific, and Latin America/Caribbean. The referencing system also differs from the first two deposits.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright held by Christian Aid.

Finding aids:

Unpublished handlists in 3 volumes: Christian Aid Archives I (first deposit), Christian Aid Archives II (second deposit), Christian Aid Archives III (third deposit).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited on permanent loan from Christian Aid in 1985, 1990 and 1994.

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
15 May 2000

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