On Thursday 7th February over 120 incredible Christian Aid group organisers, church reps and volunteers joined us to hear the stories of Christian Aid Week 2019 and share ideas with staff and each other. Many came from London, but we also had attendees travelling from Oxford, Essex, Suffolk, Sussex and Berkshire! This year’s theme of maternal healthcare in Sierra Leone struck a chord with many of our volunteers, some of whom are Sierra Leonean themselves.
There was a packed schedule, including an address from Andrew Barton, the Director of Support and Community Partnerships, who talked about Christian Aid’s new Global Strategy, and its commitment to ‘speak truth to power.’ In the spirit of this, volunteers heard about Christian Aid’s campaign actions, including ‘The Big Shift’, our lobbying of HSBC to stop investing in fossil fuels, and our petition to cancel Sierra Leone’s debt.
As well as integrating campaigns into our introduction of Christian Aid Week 2019, we also spoke about its link to a generous legacy gift. This gift, left by midwife Beryl Margaret Hadwin in her Will, has helped to fund healthcare in Africa, including in Sierra Leone. It shows how our supporters’ legacy gifts, no matter how big or small, can bring new life and hope to some of the world’s poorest people.
Our Christian Aid Week team talked frankly about the future of house-to-house collecting. In the words of Nick Gray, an organiser in Kendal: ‘The doorstep approach was feeling slightly out of date in today’s world.’ For a younger generation, the idea of knocking on strangers’ doors to collect envelopes is rather alien. And on the other side of the door, the amount of cash we have around is decreasing. Many of our supporters, like Nick, are naturally finding it harder to recruit collectors, and we wanted to let them know this is nothing to feel bad about. Because of changes in society, we think traditional house-to-house will eventually be just one of the fundraising tools that we have to use. In feedback, organisers said they appreciated our honesty about the future of house to house, and were keen to try our new ‘drop-off only’ envelope.
The whole London team felt encouraged by the positive energy at the launch. The ways our supporters adapt house-to-house, as well as branching out into other fundraising events, continues to inspire us. One attendee commented that they ‘always come away inspired’ and another that they ‘really enjoy attending Christian Aid sessions and sharing comments and suggestions with other people who are involved with CA. I find everybody so supportive.’
We’re excited to prepare for Christian Aid Week with all of our organisers, reps and volunteers, and want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who came.