|HOW WE BECAME INVOLVED WITH CHRISTIAN AID
Hilda Taylor's journey with Christian
Aid, with Christ Mort, from before the beginning
of the present Christian Aid charity.
right: Hilda and Chris - familiar faces in Wivenhoe.
Hilda was Headmistress of Broomgrove Infants School from 1970 to
|I first became aware of poverty in this country when our family moved from Rossendale to
Oldham, a few miles away; both in Lancashire. This was in 1934 when I was eight years old.
My father became the minister of Mount Pleasant Mission, a Church
with no denomination. Before the 1870 Education Act, when school
attendance became compulsory, it was then a 'Ragged School' for
children whose parents could not afford to pay for their education.
Following the Education Act it became a Church, supported by other
Churches in the area.In the nineteen thirties there were still many poor families in the area. Most of my
father's work can be described as 'social work'.
During the War I was in the Land Army in the Gloucester area, from 1944 to 1946. When I
returned home I was asked to be the Captain of the Girls' Life Brigade, in the Church, and I
agreed. It was similar to the Girl Guides.
My father died in 1948 at the age of 55.
One day, in 1954, I saw a very large poster opposite the Church on which there was a picture
of an old woman. She was sitting on a railway station in India, waiting for a train which
never came. There was also information about poverty in India, and other countries. The
charity was then called InterChurch Aid and Refugee Service.
|I then went into the Church and spoke to someone there about the poster. He said, "It has
nothing to do with us!". I replied "It has something to do with me." I then decided to
organise concerts to raise money for this charity, with the Girls' Life Brigade members.
Chris Mort belonged to the G.L.B. and she was very supportive, along with the other girls.
This continued and, in 1957 we were involved in the first Christian Aid Week, which was
organised by InterChurch Aid and Refugee Service, nationally. We collected in the streets
and knocked on doors with collecting boxes.
Other members of the Mission Church, and other Churches in the area became involved.
In 1959 I moved to Hampshire to teach in a school in Eastleigh. I rented a room in Chandlers
Ford, where I discovered that the Methodist Church there was already very active,
fundraising for Interchurch Aid, especially during Christian Aid Week. They had
innovative ideas for drawing attention to problems of extreme poverty in the world, on the
streets of the town. I then became a member of the Church and campaigned along with
In 1960 I moved to Harlow, where my mother joined me. There had been an InterChurch Aid and
Refugee Service Group in the town, but the members were unable to continue with this work.
However, I discovered many very interested people, in many different
Churches, and we re-started the InterChurch Aid Group, with Coffee
Mornings and other fund-raising events. We had street collections and
House-to-House collections during Christian Aid Week in May each year.
Members of the Jewish Synagogue joined us also. On one occasion we shared
a town event, which involved many other organisations. We had a very large
delivery van, with open sides. It was divided into two parts. In one half,
a group of well-dressed 'rich' people were sitting together and eating a
meal. In the other half were desperately hungry people, who had nothing.
Chris Mort worked in London in the early sixties and shared InterChurch
Aid and Refugee Services activities there. She and her mother came to Harlow in the early sixties, and she joined the
InterChurch Aid and Refugee Service Group in Harlow.
||In 1964 the name of the agency was "changed to CHRISTIAN AID. Harlow Churches are still
actively involved with the charity.
When I arrived in Wivenhoe in the Spring of 1970 there was someone here who had been
organising Christian Aid Week events. She asked me to become the Co-ordinator. I discovered
that there were many very active members here and, some of them, went out together in
groups, collecting during Christian Aid Week.
Christian Aid members also met together in Colchester, and this continues.
I started to keep records of Wivenhoe Christian Aid Week collections in
1972. The amount that year was £119.92, In 2007 it was £4,698.12 with £2,223.09 Gift
Chris continued to work with the Harlow group until she came here to Wivenhoe in 1977 and
has shared Christian Aid Activities here since then.
|Before and after I retired, I took a Counselling
Course. I started counselling in the Chaplaincy and Counselling
Centre in 1986, supervised by the official Counsellor. I made many
friends on campus and, during Christian Aid Week each year, Chris
Mort and others joined me to collect on campus in the University
Square, the Hexagon Restaurant and in the Towers, where many
students lived. We were able to leave collecting boxes in a few
outlets also. We had an excellent response.
After I left the Chaplaincy and the Counselling Centre, we were
able to continue Christian Aid Week collections on campus until
someone else offered to arrange them.
The FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION was established as a separate charity in 1992, by agencies working
together - CHRISTIAN AID, OXFAM, CAFOD, THE WORLD DEVELOPMENT MOVEMENT and TRAIDCRAFT
Hilda Taylor on Wivenhoe Quay
with friends from Africa in the early 1970s
|There is a FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT each year in March. This agency monitors a wide range of
goods and, if the workers, who produce the goods, receive a good, fair price for their work,
then the FAIRTRADE MARK indicates this. There is also a RUG MARK by which we know that rugs
have not been made by child slaves. The Transatlantic Slave Trade was abolished two hundred
years ago, in 1807, but there is still a MODERN SLAVE TRADE.
Chris Mort and I have been Quakers for several years and I am the
Christian Aid representative in Colchester Meeting. I work with the
Children to mark Christian aid Week. They make a presentation to the
|I became a member of the Colchester Oxfam Group many
years ago. Eventually we became the Colchester FAIRTRADE TOWN
STEERING GROUP. We had many indoor and outdoor events.
On one occasion, we provided cups of hot coffee
outside, in Lion Walk. The water was boiled in the FAIRTRADE shop, which was then a very
short distance away. We noticed that some homeless men joined the queue!
We also spoke to children in schools and many of them are now registered as FAIRTRADE
SCHOOLS, along with Churches and other groups, which have received a FAIRTRADE CERTIFICATE.
COLCHESTER is now registered as a FAIRTRADE TOWN but the FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION expects an
I have now left the Colchester Group and there is a focus upon this issue in Wivenhoe. The
Wivenhoe Council has agreed to take a lead. All the Churches here have received a
Hilda and Chris on a boat
campaigning for debt cancellation for poor countries
|One day, we hope to see a sign at the entrance to the town - WIVENHOE - A FAIRTRADE TOWN.
We have been involved with many campaigning activities with Christian Aid nationally,
including the issue of Poor Country Debt in Birmingham, London, Cologne and Genoa -
travelling by coach and boat to the places abroad.
I have met Christian Aid partners through the years, here in this country. In 1991 I went
with a group of volunteers to Palestine and Israel to meet partners there. We visited
schools, hospitals, kindergartens, medical centres, agricultural and land reclamation
projects. Christian Aid provides funding for these projects. We were invited into many
village homes for coffee.
Chris (pictured above) and Hilda
campaigning in Cologne
It was very encouraging to meet Jews, Christians and Muslims who were working together for
2007 is the fiftieth anniversary of Christian Aid Week and we were invited to the
Headquarters in London to celebrate this event, along with others who have been involved for
many years. We have been there on several occasions before and, quite
often, at the regional offices.
We were able to meet the people who are working there; some of them from other countries.
It was a very encouraging and interesting event.
|On 2nd October 2007 we shared the LAST mile of a CUT THE CARBON march, to highlight the
problem of global warming, which will affect millions of people in the poorest countries,
who have not created the problem. This was organised by Christian Aid.
This ended with a service in St. Paul's Cathedral. Some of the marchers had walked 1,000 miles, and they had slept on Church floors and in
other places. A few of them spoke to us about their journey as we stood outside the
Cathedral. One of them was an African Muslim; Mohammed. We were told that the
Jewish community was involved also.
The organisation of the House-to-House collections in Wivenhoe has now been handed over to
three supportive friends, but we still want to be involved.
As Christian Aid has emphasized for some time: The Scales of Justice are not in balance.
Below: The Christian Aid Story. Not just
raising money to help alleviate poverty, but campaigning too.
Hilda and Chris run regular
coffee mornings from their home. The one in October 2007 raised £250
with £60 gift aided.