ADRA-UK staff meet with International Development Secretary, Justine Greening

23rd May 2013

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening and Watford MP, Richard Harrington, visited the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA-UK) offices in Watford on Monday morning, 20 May 2013, for an extended one and a half hour tour and meeting.

The Secretary of State's visit focused on ADRA-UK's work in Myanmar (Burma) where the charity is implementing a project with funding from DFID that creates jobs and promotes income generation along with raising awareness of gender, HIV/Aids, disaster risk reduction and environmental protection activities. 

ADRA DFID smallMs Greening praised the efforts of ADRA and the work they are doing at a grass roots level.  She said, "It was really, really helpful because the global poverty action fund is all about going beyond working with the biggest NGOs in Britain.  We are working with medium-sized NGOs such as ADRA and much smaller ones."

The visit put ADRA-UK in the spotlight and gave them an opportunity to highlight the excellent work that ADRA does around the world. 

It was a first visit to the ADRA office for Mr Harrington. He expressed delight in having such a positive charity in his constituency.

"It's very different from the old type of top-down aid where wealthy countries gave money to small countries and hoped that enough filtered through", he told reporters.  "This is actually funding a project at grass roots and it's helping people to set up their own business, survive themselves and build an infrastructure." 

Responding for ADRA-UK, Helia Mateus, chief financial officer said: "It's very encouraging everything the secretary of state said particularly highlighting that we work at grass roots.

"We work with the most vulnerable in the communities and she particularly appreciated what we do. 

"We provide them with skills so they can generate some income to support their families, especially the young people who would otherwise have to leave the villages and head to the urban centres possibly to work in factories in the Thai border and sometimes never to be heard of again."

ADRA-UK was established by the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a charity in 1999. It stands however in a long tradition of helping people in need. This year the Church in the UK is celebrating 100 years of collecting from door-to-door by our members to fund medical, educational and development work overseas. 

Since its beginnings ADRA-UK has become a professional organisation focusing on long-term development and providing relief in emergencies.

On paper ADRA-UK is relatively small with just eight employees. However they are supported in the UK by over 50,000 people, young and old. 

The link to the Seventh-day Adventist Church is important because not only does it give ADRA-UK the ethos for its work but also gives church members an opportunity to be involved in the wider scheme of social responsibility and humanitarian work.

According to the latest statistics ADRA as a network employs over 6,000 staff worldwide and helped 31.5 million people in 2012. 

The small team here in the UK makes a significant difference, supported as it is by many thousands more and able to use the global reach of the ADRA network.

 A fuller, video report of the visit is available here. Also reports in the Watford Observer and on Richard Harrington's constituency news page.

[Bert Smit, ADRA-UK CEO / BUC News]

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