Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Christian Aid

Last week was Christian Aid Week. I've collected door to door for many years now, in Sunningdale, London and Bristol, and I can honestly say that I've always enjoyed doing so. In Bristol I cover the same road every year and have grown to know and be recognised by its residents. No matter how many visits I make, there are inevitably some doors that are never opened. However whenever they are, the welcome has, until this year, been generally friendly and rewarding. There were always a few people who refused to donate, but they numbered no more than a handful and only one or two of them were rude.

This year I noticed a distinct difference. Almost a quarter of the road refused to give anything at all. That's almost a quarter of the total population, not just of those who answered their doors. A few of them claimed to give to other charities, but the majority didn't give any reason, just that they did not want to give.

This saddened me. Firstly because after a fortnight of media coverage of the cyclone in Burma and the earthquake in China, they could not fail to be aware of the necessity of giving. Secondly because they were, almost without exception, young people. The older residents are remarkable. They have their envelopes filled and waiting by the front door and have even been known to cross the road to hand them to me, because they know they will be out, or in the back garden hanging up the washing, when I ring their bell.

Despite the credit crunch we have so much more than our fellow human beings in the developing world. That's at the best of times, let alone in times of crisis. If we are unwilling to put our hands in our pockets and place even a couple of coins, let alone a note, in a Christian Aid envelope, then we are indeed a very sorry lot.


  1. I'm wondering if there is something happening here other than simply being mean with money.

    The reaction you describe seems to involve so many people, I wonder whether there is more happening here than simple meanness?

    Could it be a reaction against charities with the word 'Christian' in the title?

    Or that there has been such a spate of terrible disasters - people are left feeling there is so little we can do that the little we can do is pointless?

    Susan Harwood

  2. From time to time I too have questioned the wisdom of including the word 'Christian' in the title. It could be misleading. However I always end up deciding that it's best left as it is, a practical expression of our Christian faith.

    Christian Aid is unique in that envelopes are delivered prior to the door to door collection, allowing people the opportunity to find out more about how any money they donate will be used to help alleviate poverty.

    Christian Aid is one of the most respected aid agencies in the UK and a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee where it works alongside Oxfam and other non-faith based NGOs. Its accounts are published and show that the majority of its income is spent on development and disaster relief.

    So I'm afraid that I continue to be saddened/anxious/frustrated by what I perceive to be a growing tendency to put the preservation of our own lifestyle above the right of fellow human beings simply to survive. It's the poor, not Christian Aid, who suffers from our selfishness.

    Slipping a few quid into an envelope would not have hurt any of the people down my street, and in fact, the one elderly man who might quite legitimately have pleaded poverty put his hand straight in his pocket as,I might add, he has always done.