CHRISTIAN AID is to close all but one of its regional offices in England by June 2020, it confirmed on Tuesday, resulting in further staff transitions and redundancies on top of the overseas closures announced at the end of September.
The aid agency previously indicated that, as part a global restructuring to reduce its unrestricted spending by £7 million, it would be withdrawing from eleven countries, putting 200 jobs at risk. Seven of these countries have national Christian Aid offices (News, 4 October).
In a statement produced on Tuesday, Christian Aid confirmed that, after the ending of a formal consultation on these plans in October, the charity would also be “moving to home-based regional support for church groups”, with just one hub: a “Central Supporter Engagement Team” based in Warrington.
“All other England regional offices will close,” the statement goes on, “but not until June 2020 [i.e. after Christian Aid Week in May]. A clear transition plan is being implemented, to ensure that churches and volunteers continue to receive excellent support and care from Christian Aid.”
Staff have been informed, and transitions to new jobs will be finalised in the coming months, the Church Times understands. It is estimated that redundancies will be made for the equivalent of 25 full-time jobs. How many this will affect is unclear, since a large number of Christian Aid staff work part-time. A mixture of staff and volunteers will be based in the Warrington office and in their own homes.
Wales and Scotland are being considered in the second phase of the restructuring, which will begin at the end of January 2020, with decisions being made in April.
The statement continues: “Globally, Christian Aid will have a presence in the countries that allow it to deliver its strategy by focusing on the most vulnerable.
“The focus of the organisation will continue to be fighting the injustice that is poverty. In particular, reaching those in extreme poverty and hardest to reach so that no one is left behind. Economic justice, climate justice, violence to peace and gender justice are key areas that are the pathways for standing together with communities experiencing extreme poverty and injustice.”
This includes 15 country programmes in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Israel and Occupied Palestinian territories, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.
The countries from which Christian Aid will withdraw are: Angola, Egypt, Zambia, Mali, South Africa, Ghana, the Philippines, Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala, and El Salvador. It will also now withdraw from Brazil. Work in Latin America will be managed as a regional programme from an office in Managua, Nicaragua, and work in the Middle East as a regional programme from London. Country managers have been informed.
The September statement referred to a “period of political uncertainty and a tough environment for unrestricted fundraising” as reasons for the global restructuring.
In 2018, according to its annual report, Christian Aid employed 922 people, 479 based in the UK, Ireland, or Spain. This was down from 931 in 2017. It also showed an increase in income — up 22 per cent to £117.9 million on 2017. Funding from institutions in grants and contracts has increased by 44 per cent over the past five years, to £62.5 million. But donations from the public remained flat, having fallen by almost £5 million in the previous five years to £54.7 million.
The chief executive of Christian Aid, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, said on Tuesday: “We are embracing our ambition, mandate, and destiny to help stop the scourge of poverty, dismantle power structures that perpetuate extreme poverty, injustice, and inequality, and use our voice and agency to break the silence.
“Going deeper rather than wider; being more impactful and ensuring that we get maximum value out of every pound we raise and spend — is what we want to achieve. We know we can do this by standing together with supporters and churches around the UK and with partners and communities.”