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Tearfund is a UK Christian relief and development agency, working with a global network of local churches to help eradicate poverty, transform lives and bring justice.

It is a founding member of both the Micah Network and the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Tearfund adheres to internationally recognised standards.



May 1959 - May 1960 was designated World Refugee Year by the United Nations, highlighting the needs of an estimated 40 million refugees around the world. Christians in Britain sent in spontaneous gifts to the Evangelical Alliance (EA) requesting their donations be used to help refugees. [1]

The Evangelical Refugee Fund was set up to administer the gifts. Tearfund was born out of this fund, and had its first official committee meeting in May 1968. At that time it was called The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund Committee. [2] George Hoffman headed up the fund. [3] Hoffman was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (or "OBE") for his stewardship of Tearfund in its early years.

The first grant made by Tearfund was £250 towards flood relief in Argentina in October 1968.[4] In January 1969 Sir Cliff Richard did two fundraising concerts for Tearfund at London's Royal Albert Hall. [5] Hoffman was backed by John Stott who became President, and he was succeeded in 1997 by Dr Elaine Storkey. Sir Cliff Richard is Tearfund's Vice President, along with Ichthus leader Roger Forster. In 2009 Sir Cliff gave the proceeds of his first 50th anniversary concert in Wembley Arena to Tearfund. Today [ known friends)

Tearfund was registered as a charity on 6 March, 1973.[6] In 1986 the word Tear ceased to stand for The Evangelical Alliance Relief and since then Tearfund has been a name in its own right. [7]

Tearcraft is the fair trade business wing of Tearfund, supporting artisans from poor communities and selling the crafts through the Tearcraft catalogue. Tearcraft, along with Traidcraft has brought about awareness about international trade and justice issues amongst UK Christians.

Similar, but independent, organisations have been founded in other countries such as Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, France, Switzerland and Australia (see below).

Tearfund produces resources for use in churches and small groups, to enable people in the UK to engage with some of the issues facing poor communities around the world. This year their harvest pack focusses on securing food in Burkina Faso.

Living Gifts is a new scheme where people buy vouchers as presents. The recipient then chooses which area of Tearfund's work they wish their voucher to go towards.


In the early days Tearfund worked primarily through overseas missionary agencies.[8] Gradually Tearfund shifted to establishing partnerships with indigenous Christian groups, such as the development wings of churches.[9] Tearfund wanted to move from the model of western giver and developing world receiver to one that recognised the equality on both sides of the relationship[10] By 2006 Tearfund was working with 297 partners, many of them church-based groups, in a total of 565 projects.[11]

Footsteps magazine was first published in 1986. Footsteps shares good practice, information and ideas with grassroots groups involved in development. Each issue now has a print run of 50,000 and it is produced in 7 languages. [12] Capacity building and sustainable development are important strategies for Tearfund. On Tearfund's International Learning Zone, there is more than 8000 pages of practical information that Tearfund has collected over the last 18 years, on topics as diverse as recycling household rubbish to responding to earthquakes.

Tearfund first sent staff overseas in 1972 when nurses were sent to flood-struck Bangladesh to work with the Bible and Medical Missionary Fellowship. The nurses spent from 6 months to two years working in hospitals, clinics and feeding camps. [13] Nowadays people can spend from two weeks to four months working with Tearfund partners as part of a Transformteam.

Responding to and preparing for disaster

In 1988 Tearfund started running some of its own projects overseas. In 1994 Tearfund set up a Disaster Response Unit, now called the Disaster Management Team. [14] The first disaster responded to was the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. By 2006-2007, Tearfund had teams working in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Liberia, Darfur, Indonesia, Pakistan and Kenya, caring for people affected by conflicts and natural disasters. [15]

As well as sending in operational teams, Tearfund funds local churches and other Christian organisations around the world to carry out relief work. In 2006 - 2007 it provided £9 million to partner groups working in emergencies. [16] Tearfund also works to reduce the vulnerability of poor communities to disaster.

In 2001 Tearfund started lobbying the UK government to put more emphasis on its own emergency-aid policy on helping vulnerable communities to reduce the risk posed by disasters. In 2005 Tearfund published a report called Learn the Lessons calling for aid spending to move from 'bandaging wounds' to 'preventing injuries'. The government's Department for International Development incorporated this into its policy and launched the policy at Tearfund's headquarters in March 2006. [17]

Tearfund responded immediately to the tsunamiwhich struck south Asia on boxing day 2004, providing relief in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. Work continues and to date more than £27 million has been spent. Work has included the distribution of relief packs, trauma counselling, building houses and enabling people to start up small businesses.


Tearfund, like many other NGOs, gets involved in campaigning - particularly to change things that they see as being causes of poverty. In the 1990s Tearfund began researching various [1]issues, in order to explain the issues to Tearfund's supporters. In 1997 Global Action Network became Tearfund's first full-scale programme of equipping supporters to campaign on poverty issues from a Biblical basis. Its first action was to get behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel unpayable debt. [18]

Tearfund was heavily involved in Make Poverty History in 2005, the biggest ever anti-poverty movement. Many Tearfund staff, volunteers and supporters took part in the march round Edinburgh in July 2005.

Today campaigning supporters receive a regular magazine and action emails.

One of the major campaigning issues which Tearfund is tackling is that of climate change both encouraging people in the UK to lower their carbon emissions and calling on governments to help their people adapt to a changing climate. Reducing the spread of HIV and improving access to ARVs and other medication is another major Tearfund campaign. The 2008 campaign is called Alive.

Tearfund wants to engage people in issues of justice from an early age and has a range of resources and services tailored to young people.

Tearfund is a member organisation of several coalitions, including:

TEAR Australia

The Australian Tear Fund was established in 1971. This has since been renamed TEAR Australia. In 1994, TEAR Australia was the first organization to launch a charity gift catalogue, called Arguably, the World's Most Useful Gift Catalogue. The way in which the catalogue functions is that people are encouraged to apply funds that they would usually spend on birthday or Christmas gifts and the like, to items such as goats, wells, school supplies or small business loans for people in poor communities in developing countries. The gift-giver receives a card to give the recipient of the gift which states that the goat or well has been provided in their name.

TEAR Australia uses the acronym Transformation, Empowerment, Advocacy and Relief. The organization is heavily involved in developing educational materials designed to help Australian Christians respond to the needs of the world's poor. It is a member of the Micah Network, an international alliance of Christian relief and development non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Tearfund Ireland

See Tearfund Ireland

Tearfund has operated in the island of Ireland for more than 40 years with a strong network of supporters and churches. In 2008, Tearfund Ireland was launched as an independent charity. As a sister organisation Tearfund Ireland works closely with Tearfund in the UK, sharing their vision and values and benefiting from their considerable experience and expertise. Tearfund Ireland focuses on Emergency Response, Forgotten Children, Vulnerable Women and HIV.

TEAR Fund New Zealand

See Tear Fund NZ

TEAR fund New Zealand was formed in 1975.

TEAR Fund NZ partners with local Christian organisations and churches in developing countries who work directly with the poorest people, helping them find their own solutions, cutting out the middleman and reducing costs. Activities include child sponsorship (including Christian evangalism), microenterprise, community development projects and disaster relief

References list

  1. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P18.Monarch Books
  2. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P17.Monarch Books.
  3. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P21.Monarch Books
  4. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P46.Monarch Books
  5. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P29.Monarch Books
  6. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P21.Monarch Books
  7. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P19.Monarch Books.
  8. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P83.Monarch Books
  9. ^ [Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P92.Monarch Books
  10. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P97/98.Monarch Books
  11. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P164.Monarch Books
  12. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P108.Monarch Books
  13. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P62.Monarch Books
  14. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P65,66.Monarch Books
  15. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P68.Monarch Books
  16. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P73.Monarch Books
  17. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P77.Monarch Books
  18. ^ Mike Hollow.A future and a hope.2008.1st edition.P183.Monarch Books

External links


In various countries

About Tearfund


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