What is the greatest need facing us?
You want to help make the world a better place, but only have so much time and money to give. How do you choose the most important causes to support? Reform asks 12 charities to name the greatest need
What comes to mind concerning the greatest need is a series of words: Justice, dignity, peace, identity, empowerment, environment and cooperation. These are important words, whose meanings we must fight to uphold and whose values feel critically important to champion in amongst the many challenges we face as a civilisation. Of all of these, it is “cooperation” which cues our collective call to action – namely, that of mobilising our ecumenical spirit and using our spheres of influence (whether social investment or charity) to tackle some of the world’s biggest issues together – climate change, food security and poverty.
To find out more about social investment through Oikocredit, visit oikocredit.org.uk
or call 0330 355 33 00
Church Action on Poverty
We need to hear the voices of people affected by destitution and hunger on our own doorsteps. They are demonised by myths and stereotypes in the media – which the government has used as justification for a further £12bn of benefit cuts. In contrast, our Real Benefits Street project (www.realbenefits-street.com) enables people supported by benefits – real-life experts (pictured) – to make their voices heard through online videos and the media. We need to make sure their stories are heard and maintain pressure for changes that will make a difference to millions.
To donate to the work of Church Action on Poverty,visit www.church-poverty.org.uk
or call 0161 236 9321
Christian Aid works on a number of different needs which affect our world, but there is one that is unmatched in its impact on first the poor but ultimately all of us: The need to tackle climate change. Climate change is a threat multiplier – it makes nearly all the other problems worse, whether food production, drought and extreme weather or war and migration. Christian Aid is helping people in the developing world to adapt to these changes but also campaigning to tackle the problem at its source. You can join us by becoming a local lobbyist.
To find out more about becoming a local lobbyist, visit christianaid.org.uk/locallobbyist, or call your local Christian Aid office
Across the world, people are losing hope. Hope that life can truly be fruitful, peaceful and just. Hope that just because things are a certain way, that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed and transformed for the better. Everything we do at Oasis – be it church, education, debt advice, youth work, anti-trafficking, health care or tackling exclusion and isolation – is about bringing people together, creating a sense of belonging in every community we work with so that absolutely everyone can have hope, overcome life’s obstacles and can reach their God-given potential.
To donate to the work of Oasis, visit www.oasisuk.org/donation or call 020 7921 4200
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Three quarters of the world’s population now live in countries with high restrictions on religious freedom – and the figure is rising. This issue effects the world’s economy, global political stability and refugees; effects can be seen with groups like Daesh (Islamic State). We believe fighting for religious freedom is the greatest need facing us today. We work with the UN and the EU, and world governments, to raise awareness of the issues. We provide human rights training in many countries, empowering people to speak up for their own religious freedom, and work towards a world where everyone is free to choose and practise their faith.
To donate to the work of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, visit www.csw.org.uk or call 0845 456 5464
Embrace the Middle East
The greatest need is for us to put into action the words of Jesus in Luke 4, quoting from Isaiah 61, about bringing good news to the poor and oppressed, and proclaiming freedom for captives, whatever the source of “captivity”, including displacement as a refugee, disability and acute poverty. Our focus at Embrace is in partnering with local Christians as they do exactly this in the Middle East, but it doesn’t really matter what area of the world you focus on. The need is so great! And as Western Christians we are far too comfortable and complacent about these issues.
To find out more about how Middle East Christians are making a difference, particularly for Syrian refugees, visit www.embraceme.org/appeal
The biggest challenge facing society is the fear of difference in the heart of each person and group, which makes us close ourselves off from others – especially those who remind us of the hidden and vulnerable parts of ourselves. In response, L’Arche creates communities that bridge difference – bodies of people with a shared story and a commitment to a common future. These are founded on welcoming the truth about humanity: We flourish when we celebrate and recognise our need of each other – people with and without learning disabilities. The spirit of L’Arche is marked by welcome, sharing and simplicity, and a faithfulness to little things. It’s about how we meet and eat, share our stories, pray and celebrate together.
To find out more about living as an assistant in a L’Arche community, volunteering as a local friend, or building a new L’Arche community in north Wales, Nottingham or Scotland, visit www.larche.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Children’s Society
Making the transition to adulthood is a challenge for any child, but when you’re coping with issues like poverty, poor mental health, living in care, or with an undetermined immigration status, it can be particularly hazardous. Older teens are more likely to be victims of violent crime, suffer abuse or neglect and have low emotional wellbeing. However, too often society fails to provide them the same legal protections as younger children or the same rights and entitlements as adults. Whether supporting children to leave care or working with teenagers with mental health problems, The Children’s Society helps vulnerable teenagers to make the difficult move into adult life.
To donate to the work of The Children’s Society, visit
or call 0300 303 7000
Injustice is at the heart of many, if not all, of the world’s problems today, such as a basic lack of human rights, inequality and unfair access to resources. Amos Trust works with vibrant grasssroots projects that develop local solutions to global issues. Driven by a belief that men, women and children of all creeds and cultures are called to be partners in co-creating a world where peace and justice prevails, we have been working for 30 years to challenge injustice, build hope and create change. This manifests itself in our partnership with projects: Promoting the rights of street children in India, South Africa and Burundi, building sustainable rural communities in Nicaragua and seeking to create a just peace for Palestine.
Medical Aid for
Access to a doctor, essential medicine and healthy food are basic needs. But for Palestinians in Gaza, these are too often denied. The blockade of Gaza leaves the population trapped in what the UN has called an “open air prison”. Health facilities remain destroyed after last summer’s attacks. Families struggle to afford healthy food for their children. Doctors don’t have many of the most essential medicines and medical equipment needed to save lives. And there is the constant threat of another major assault on Gaza – which would result in more deaths, more life-altering injuries and more destruction of basic health facilities. MAP works with Palestinian doctors, hospitals and NGOs to get medical aid and care into Gaza.
To support the work of MAP, visit www.map.org.uk or 020 7226 4114
The greatest need facing society today is the global water and sanitation crisis. Astonishingly, one in 10 people around the world still have no access to safe, clean water and one in three have no access to a toilet. Over 1,400 children die from waterborne diseases every day. Access to safe water is the first step out of poverty. When communities have safe water, they are healthier, they can earn a living and children can go to school. WaterAid helps the poorest communities in the world to access these essential services, and influences decisionmakers to do more to provide them.
To support the work of WaterAid, request a harvest fundraising pack at www.wateraid.org/uk/harvest or call 020 7793 4594
Christians Against Poverty
When you get to the end of yourself and have run out of options – emotionally or financially – the greatest need is for someone to give you their time, with the resources to get the problems sorted. Almost a third of people who call Christians Against Poverty for debt help have been struggling for three years, with no idea who to ask for help. CAP works in partnership with hundreds of local churches. Every client can be seen in their own home by someone who cares, backed up by professionals who tackle overdue bills, rent and mortgage arrears, credit card bills and loans on the clients’ behalf.
To donate to the work of Christians Against Poverty, visit capuk.org or call 01274 760761.
This article was published in the July/August 2015 edition of Reform.