Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises the papers of Inter-Church Aid and its predecessor organisation Christian Reconstruction in Europe. The collection includes: constitutional papers; minutes of the organisation's committees and sub-committees; correspondence files, including those of the organisation's senior officers; and subject/regional files relating to the organisation's work on appeals and campaigns, and relating to Europe; Palestine and Africa.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service was a faith based body active in international humanitarian relief. Founded in 1949, it was constitutionally a subsidiary department of the British Council of Churches (BCC) which itself was an umbrella organisation for a number of major British and Irish churches. In 1964, the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service was renamed as Christian Aid.

In 1943, major British and Irish churches involved in the British Council of Churches helped establish an ad-hoc organisation Christian Reconstruction in Europe (CRE), which aimed to raise funds for the resettlement of some of the millions of people in Europe left homeless by the Second World War. An appeal by CRE raised £1,227,450 from church and other donations to assist refugees across Europe. Concurrently, the British Council of Churches' Ecumenical Refugee Committee was established, which formed a close link with the work of the World Council of Churches in Geneva and was responsible for producing a series of Occasional Papers on the refugee situation in Europe.

In 1949, Christian Reconstruction in Europe merged with the BCC Ecumenical Refugee Committee to become a department of the British Council of Churches. The new body was renamed as the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service, with a stated objective to 'provide succour to churches, church institutions, and individuals overseas or from overseas, who are in want'. Inter-Church Aid was conceived as a permanent body and its new Board of Directors was given wide-ranging operational and financial autonomy by the BCC. Inter-Church Aid continued many of the projects and appeals initated by CRE, focussing its work in particular on assisting refugees in Germany, Austria, Italy and Greece and Palestine.

In 1952, Janet Lacey, who had previously worked for the Youth Department of the British Council of Churches, was appointed as the department's Director. During the 1950s, the organisation expanded its focus to include worldwide disaster relief and development work. In 1957 Inter-Church Aid organised a 'Christian Aid Week' to encourage public awareness about its work. This first event mobilised residents in 200 towns and villages across Britain, collecting £26,000 for overseas development work, subsequently Christian Aid Week was to become an annual event. Between 1960 and 1964, Inter-Church Aid was involved in promoting the Freedom from Hunger Campaign which aimed to focus aid on increasing food production in the poorest regions of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

In 1964, Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service changed its name to Christian Aid to reflect the success of its annual fund-raising week.

Arrangement

Arranged into eight series reflecting the original order of the papers: constitutional papers; minutes and associated papers; correspondence files; and subject/regional files relating to appeals and campaigns; migrants and refugees; Europe; Palestine; and Africa.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Transferred to SOAS by the Church of England Record Centre in 2008.

Custodial History

Previously held as part of the archives of the British Council of Churches [Ref: BCC] at the Church of England Record Centre.

Related Material

SOAS Library also holds the records of Christian Aid (the successor to Inter-Church Aid) which are organised as a separate collection [Reference: CA]. The Christian Aid collection covers the period c.1946-c.1990 and also includes material from the organisation's period under the name 'Inter Church Aid and Refugee Service'. The Christian Aid collection comprises correspondence, minutes and reports concerning aid projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean; papers of the Directorate; committee minutes of the British Council of Churches, and Christian Aid Board papers; organisational material including correspondence with other fund-raising bodies such as Oxfam, the Red Cross, and a selection of Christian Aid publicity material including Annual Reports. To date, five separate deposits of records have been made at SOAS Library by Christian Aid.

SOAS Library also holds the correspondence and papers, 1949-1991, of Andrew Hake [Reference: PP MS 46], industrial missionary to Kenya, wose work was in part funded by the Inter Church Aid and Refugee Service, and later by Christian Aid.

The records of the British Council of Churches [Reference BCC], 1942-1990, including BCC Council and Executive Committe minutes and papers; BCC Division of Ecumenical Affairs papers; BCC Division of International Affairs papers; BCC Social Responsibility Department papers; and BCC Youth Department papers, are held at the Church of England Record Centre, London.