Tearfund is a Christian international relief and development agency with more than 50 years’ experience. We work in over 50 countries worldwide, in partnership with communities, churches and local organisations, to tackle the complex challenges of poverty and injustice.
How we work
Tearfund has three global approaches to our work:
- Advocacy and influencing: we seek to influence the global church and governments to bring about fair and just policies and structures at a local, national and global level.
- Community development: we work, where possible, through the local church, empowering communities to lift themselves out of poverty.
- Humanitarian response: we respond to disasters and conflicts, always seeking to reach those in greatest need.
Tearfund recognises that poverty is the result of a social and structural legacy of broken relationships with God, damaged understanding of self, unjust relationships between people, and exploitative relationships with the environment. Our understanding of poverty and our response to it are outlined in this booklet.
Our current priorities
In 2018, we set three corporate priority areas to focus on for the next five years. These help give us direction and make decisions on the type of work we engage in around the world. They are:
Church and community transformation (CCT)
We believe in supporting the church, at local and national levels, to carry out its calling to be salt and light in the world and serve those living in poverty. We believe that poverty exists as a result of broken relationships with God, ourselves, others and creation. The Church has a key role to play in helping to restore these four broken relationships, bringing about whole-life transformation to individuals and communities.
Church and community transformation is a term that describes the various ways Tearfund works with and through the local church to empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty. These processes enable people to think about the issues they face and work together to design their own strategies to address these issues and bring about change.
One of the ways in which we do this is through approaches such as church mobilisation, where the church is the provider, and church and community mobilisation, where the church is a facilitator.
Environmental and economic sustainability (EES)
We work towards a world where every person’s basic needs are met, where all human beings have a chance to flourish and where we all live within our environmental limit. This means we are committed to relief and development that is environmentally and economically sustainable – finding effective ways to support sustainable livelihoods while at the same time protecting or improving the environment, and reducing economic inequality.
Based on the belief that we are all called to be stewards of God’s creation, our EES approach is to work through local communities and churches on projects and with like-minded people to speak up on these EES issues.
A fragile state is a region or state where the exposure to risks and the capacity to manage or respond to those risks is out of balance. Fragility can be caused by a number of factors and is usually understood by considering the security, political, social, economic and environmental contexts. An imbalance in any of these contexts can lead to violence, conflict, chronic underdevelopment and long-term political crisis.
We are committed to staying and working in fragile states for as long as necessary, working with our partners, and directly where necessary, to respond to immediate needs and find sustainable solutions.
In looking at fragility we prioritise the risk of violent conflict as a significant cause of long-term instability and a major driver of fragility. Our response to fragile states, therefore, focuses on transforming violent conflict and addressing both its causes and effects.
Many fragile states are also characterised by general insecurity, a restricted civil society space, and a local church unable to operate. In fact, many of the worst crises of today are in these types of countries. One of our priorities is to explore and develop ways to work in these challenging ‘restricted’ environments, and respond effectively to immediate and long-term needs.
A unique faith-based approach
Tearfund is a Christian organisation and our faith is the foundation of everything we do. At the heart of our work is our belief that local churches can make an immense contribution to overcoming poverty at a local, national and international level. Their passion, rootedness in the community and commitment to relationships mean they can be tremendous agents of transformation. As you would expect from any professional organisation that strives to maintain the highest possible standard, we rigorously apply quality standards and adhere to financial accountability and transparency. As a faith-based organisation it is equally important for us to consider and apply the theology underpinning our work.