Christian action on poverty and injustice

Many Christians believe it is part of their religious duty to help the poor. They follow the example of Jesus, who reached out to the poor in society. Some Christians believe that faith and the fight for justice go hand in hand.

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Many Christians living in rich nations feel they have a responsibility towards those in poorer nations. This means offering practical help as well as remembering them in prayer.

Christians also concern themselves with their local area. This might involve supporting a scheme to help the homeless, volunteering in the local charity shop or organising a weekly youth club for young people. Many churches are involved in neighbourhood food banks, encouraging their members to donate food items and work as volunteers distributing food to needy people.

There are a number of Christian charities working to improve the conditions of poor people both at home and abroad (you only need to know about one of these organisations in detail for your course).

Christian Aid

Christian Aid began work in 1945. The organisation was founded by British and Irish churches to help refugees following World War Two. Working together with supporters and partners, Christian Aid aims to:

  • expose poverty throughout the world
  • help in practical ways to end poverty
  • highlight, challenge and change the structures and systems that favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised

One of Christian Aid’s campaign slogans is “We believe in life before death”. Christian Aid works to help vulnerable people have a decent life by taking action in the following ways:

  • seeking to follow the teaching of Jesus, who commanded his followers to love their neighbour and work for a better world
  • giving people survival essentials when they are without shelter or refuge, and helping them find the strength and resources they need to flourish and protect themselves from shocks and disasters
  • supporting people to stand up for their rights and to build stable, secure lives they can enjoy living

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a Christian Church and charity. They work with some of the most disadvantaged people in our communities. These include homeless people, older people, unemployed people, those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, victims of human trafficking and major emergencies.

The Salvation Army has many opportunities for volunteers. These include serving meals to people who would otherwise be on their own, supporting those who are struggling financially, running activities and classes in community centres and providing support to help people into employment.

Trócaire

Trócaire works in partnership with the Catholic Church and civil society organisations in over 20 developing countries. Some examples of Trócaire’s work include:

  • humanitarian response - providing emergency aid and supporting recovery in countries affected by natural disasters or conflict
  • women’s empowerment - working with women and men to eliminate inequalities that keep women poor and marginalised
  • justice and human rights - supporting people and communities to demand government accountability and to challenge human rights violations

Ways to get involved with Trócaire’s work include fundraising, volunteering in community outreach work in Ireland and campaigning on justice issues (such as climate change or the refugee crisis). Trócaire organises marches and protests and has a major fundraising and awareness campaign each year during Lent.

St Vincent de Paul

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) was founded in Ireland in 1844. It is the largest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland. The organisation’s goal is to fight poverty in all its forms through practical assistance to people in need.

SVP works to make Ireland a fairer place, where caring for vulnerable people is valued and supported and where individuals, families and communities can participate fully in work and society. There are many ways people can get involved with the work of SVP, including:

  • donating or fundraising
  • giving time or skills through volunteering
  • encouraging your local parish to get involved