Understanding Poverty (Part 4): How Do We Help Tackle Poverty? 1

Understanding Poverty (Part 4): How Do We Help Tackle Poverty?

Our specific contribution. Tearfund’s calling is to follow Jesus where the need is greatest, and our expertise is in international development, humanitarian aid and advocacy. We also see part of our role as enabling the church to live out its calling to help release people from poverty, regardless of their faith or background. So we put the church at the centre of all we do, working through local churches wherever possible.


‘…To see people freed from poverty, living transformed lives and reaching their God-given potential’

In order to achieve this vision we want to see:

Churches mobilised: The church is envisioned, empowered and equipped to play its part in transforming the poorest communities and changing society.

Communities transformed: The poorest communities are resilient to shocks and stresses, working for peace and unity, and contributing to better futures for themselves and others.

Emergency needs met: Immediate needs are met when crises and natural disasters hit and community structures and mechanisms are affected.

Society changed: Social, political, economic and environmental systems and policies work for the poorest communities, ensuring access to basic needs, reduced inequality and sustainable growth. 

Understanding Poverty (Part 4): How Do We Help Tackle Poverty? 2


Wherever possible, we work with the local church. This is our major distinctive. Where we cannot, we aim to work through other Christian partners and individuals.

In pursuit of our desired outcomes, our three main approaches are:

  • Community development. We support communities to lift themselves out of poverty. We aim to build local capacity, so that communities become resilient and can continue to combat poverty and injustice with their own resources and relationships. We are committed to supporting communities in understanding and addressing risks of all types.
  • Humanitarian response, we respond immediately targeting those in greatest need. We are committed to impartiality, providing assistance to the most vulnerable without regard for: age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief. We respond to rapid-onset disasters and protracted crises, to man-made and natural disasters. We promote partner and community planning to help them respond to and recover from future shocks and stresses, ensuring that even the most marginalised can participate.
  • Influencing and advocacy. We influence the global church and governments with and on behalf of the poorest people, to bring about large-scale change. We believe that change must happen at multiple levels for there to be meaningful transformation. We therefore work to shift public perception on key issues, influence strategic leaders and decision-makers, and mobilise the church and civil society to be agents of change at local, national and global levels.

This figure illustrates how our approaches help fulfill our vision and achieve the change we want to see.

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Acknowledgements: Adapted from Tearfund UK’s booklet “Understanding Poverty” by Anna Ling and Hannah Swithinbank