CHRISTIAN AID is laying off scores of staff in a retrenchment programme that will reduce its overseas operations. The process is a response to falling income and, the charity says, a need for a global strategy to “reimagine” its future.
Over the next year, the equivalent of about 160 full-time jobs will disappear, although some workers will be redeployed. After its announcement in December (News, 10 December 2019), all UK centres will close, except for national offices in Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London, and its Central Supporter Engagement team base in Warrington, Lancashire. Almost half its 970 staff are based in the UK and Spain.
In the year 2018-19, the charity’s income rose by two per cent to £120.4 million, but total expenditure was up ten per cent. In a “challenging fundraising environment”, as its annual report described it, donations from individuals and through appeals fell by nine and 28 per cent respectively.
The charity began reviewing its operations last July. Earlier this month, senior managers decided to shut down several overseas programmes or operate them through a regional base rather than in-country. At present, the charity works in 27 countries through 13 country programmes, and three regional programmes in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Initially, it had considered withdrawing from 12 countries, identified in a statement last December as Angola, Brazil, Egypt, Zambia, Mali, South Africa, Ghana, the Philippines, Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Work in Latin America would be managed from Nicaragua, and work in the Middle East would be managed from London. It has already moved out of the Philippines and Bolivia, but where else the axe will fall remains under consideration.
Its UK job losses will start after a much-altered Christian Aid Week in May, which under the lockdown, will abandon the traditional fund-raising methods for online promotion (News, 27 March). Christian Aid said that the decisions had not been based on the impact of the coronavirus, but the pandemic had made them more relevant. It has launched its own pandemic appeal.
The reorganisation programme, Standing Together, is intended to create “a Christian Aid fit for the future that delivers deeper and more sustainable impact for the communities we serve, standing together with supporters, churches and partners. Standing together with our sisters and brothers living in poverty, we are tackling the root causes of poverty, injustice and inequalities and speaking truth to power.
“Bringing our humanitarian, programmatic and policy work closer together will enable us to focus on those hardest to reach, with our impact measured through their eyes.”