A NEW government funding scheme for international aid has been welcomed by Christian Aid.
UK Aid Connect, launched on Thursday of last week, will support UK charities and NGOs that are working to tackle global intolerance, extremism, and poverty. It was one of four new programmes announced by the Department for International Development (DfID) at the end of last year, as part of its Civil Society Partnership Review.
Groups are invited to submit applications for grants in eight areas. These include promoting sexual- and reproductive-health rights; disability inclusion; defending the free press and freedom of expression; tackling child labour and modern slavery; addressing LGBT inclusion; and supporting tolerance and freedom of religion or belief.
The head of advocacy at Christian Aid, Tom Viita, said: “The face of poverty today is scarred by multiple challenges: exclusion, inequality, violence, a degraded environment. We can’t get to the root of these 21st-century challenges without taking bold risks and admitting that no one organisation has all the answers.
“UK Aid Connect has the potential to bring the expertise of different organisations to bear on new problems that are complex and long term.”
His comments echoed those of the International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, who called on charities, NGOs, and the faith, business, and science communities to combine resources, at a reception on global aid at Church House, Westminster, earlier this month.
“It is clearer now, more than ever, that we need a wide range of players to be our advocates and to be our voice, but to also help us deliver that hope and defeat poverty for good,” she said.
The Government also launched a small-charities fund last week, through which UK-registered charities with an annual income of less than £250,000 can bid for grants of up to £50,000. Smaller charities, Ms Patel said, “have not had the opportunity to work with DfID, have not had the opportunity to have access to UK aid, and they have not had the opportunity to share in that funding stream that others have benefited from.”
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, speaking during a debate on the development aid budget in the House of Lords, last week, said that UK aid should not be measured solely by budgets, but by the work of charities and the Church to alleviate human suffering.