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People collecting water in Senegal during 1978 drought

Our history

With the help of our incredible supporters and partners, we’ve achieved so much in 70 years.

Our groundbreaking work began in 1945, when we were founded by British and Irish churches to help refugees following the Second World War.

For more than 70 years, we have provided humanitarian relief and long-term development support for poor communities worldwide, while highlighting suffering, tackling injustice and championing people’s rights.

Our achievements
Woman holding baby in front of World Council of Churches refugee service van.
1940s
We helped refugees in need at the end of the Second World War. We raised more than £80,000 (£3 million plus in today’s money) for emergency supplies in mainland Europe. We supported, equipped and enabled partner churches there to meet the needs of their people.
Women cross the road carrying a large banner covered in posters with 'help' written on them.
1950s
We launched Christian Aid Week to raise extra funds. We continued helping refugees in mainland Europe as well as those from Palestine, Korea and China. We set up and administered Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) to enable young people to make a difference, and offered help to churches in countries moving from colonialism to independence to meet the needs of poor people.
 Pop group on the steps of St Martins in the Fields during Christian Aid Week, 1966
1960s
We made a difference in crises affecting Nigeria/Biafra, Kenya and India. We created the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) so that development agencies were seen to work together in times of humanitarian crisis. We helped set the World Development Movement to encourage political campaigning. We addressed racism and poverty in the United States as well as advising Martin Luther King while he was in the UK.
Poster showing wealthy westerners on the left and poor communities overseas on the right
1970s
We drew a link between educating supporters at home about the root causes of poverty and work with partners overseas to eradicate it. We popularised world development issues by providing seed money to establish the New Internationalist magazine. We explained the connection between our consumer culture at home and the global food crisis by launching a campaign to live simply.
Politician Ted Heath presented with 'Restore the Aid Cuts' cheque for £230m from treasurer of World Development Movement group.
1980s
We fed hungry people during the Ethiopian famine and those experiencing drought in Mozambique. We led a mass lobby of parliament to call for more official development aid. We created the Southern African Coalition to demand an end to apartheid.
Mother and daughter in the flooded street outside their home in Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 1998
1990s
We linked work in 50 poor countries to campaigns on developing world debt, fair trade and the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. We challenged the stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. We stood up for and provided food for refugees in Kosovo.
Man standing in beach strewn with clothing and remains of destroyed buildings
2000s
We campaigned to make poverty history during a war against terror. We reached more than 500,000 people with food, shelter and healthcare after the Asian Tsunami. We publicised the fact that developing countries lose more money through the tax evasion practices of large corporations than they receive through official aid.
Elderly man with young girl with water behind them
2010s
We inform about and campaign against climate change. We champion tax justice. We continue to work with local partners on the ground to make a practical difference to the lives of new waves of refugees locally while campaigning and advocating for change globally.
Theodor Davidovic: one refugee's experience
In the camps, it was Christian Aid that sent the parcels…feeding us for two-and-a-half years, and I never forgot it. Christian Aid helped me to survive and I feel I owe my life to Christian Aid. I vowed there and then to do my best as long as I live, and I’m still doing it
Theodor Davidovic
Refugee and long-term Christian Aid supporter

All images Christian Aid, except 1990s: Christian Aid/Mike Goldwater and 2010s: Sahar Zafar.

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