The Friends of CRS in the UK began in the 1970s as an informal support group established by word of mouth. Over the decades it became more formalised with a team of Trustees taking responsibility for spreading awareness and raising funds. The UK Friends have also been proactive in proposing and funding new initiatives in Kolkata including football, school partnerships, and the Nari Dana project.
The primary goal of the UK Friends is to raise funds for the work of CRS in India. The Friends has a small and loyal supporter base but are always looking for new supporters and new ways to raise funds. 90 pence of every pound raised is transferred to CRS in India.
Individual giving is at the heart of the Friends’ fundraising. Many people give generously on a monthly basis while others give one-off donations. We have also been grateful to receive legacies both large and small in people’s wills.
The Friends are supported by group giving from churches, community groups and schools. We are fortunate in having a number of churches who have been long-standing donors, and currently enjoy particular support from Derby Diocese, and from a number of parishes and schools within the Diocese.
Fundraising events provide an opportunity to get people together, tell them more about the work of CRS and raise money. In different parts of the country, people have organised curry evenings and tea parties. On other occasions, a sponsored event is an opportunity to raise awareness and money.
The affairs of the Friends of CRS are overseen by a team of nine Trustees. They have a shared commitment and passion yet each brings different skills and experience to the table.
The Trustees work with the Director of CRS in Kolkata, his Executive Committee and staff, and consider themselves to be one team all working together for the common benefit of underprivileged people in the slums of Kolkata and rural villages beyond.
One or two of the Trustees aim to visit India every 12 months. They meet office staff and the Executive Committee, as well as visit CRS centres to ensure that funds have been properly spent, track the progress of different projects, and identify new funding needs. They also provide strategic and management advice. This has not been possible in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we hope to resume in-person visits very soon. In the meantime, Trustees have been able to meet with the team in India via video conferencing.
- Dr Alison Brown has been involved in organising the links between schools in Derbyshire and Kolkata since 2015, and became a Trustee in 2019.
- Clive Brown (Acting Secretary) was a partner in a law firm in the City of London until his retirement. He has been a Trustee since 2009 and takes the lead on fundraising and liaison with the team in Kolkata.
- John Forster was a Senior Manager in the automotive industry until his retirement in 2018. He became a Trustee in 2019 and focuses on supporting Nari Dana.
- Rt Revd Mike Harrison (Chairman) is the Bishop of Dunwich in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Suffolk. He has been a Trustee for over a decade and serves as Chairman of the group.
- Revd Anita Matthews is Associate Priest at St Peter’s in the City, Derby, and is involved in CRS through the link between Derby Diocese and the Church of North India link. She has been a Trustee since 2015.
- Elizabeth Stanley-Wainwright is a head teacher and Section 48 Church Inspector based in Derbyshire. She has been involved with CRS schools through the Derby Diocese link since 2017.
- Revd Dave Walker is curate in the parish of Dronfield and Holmesfield, Derbyshire, and commercial director of a company that specialises in water monitoring. He first visited West Bengal in February 2017 as part of the link between Derby Diocese and the Church of North India, which sparked a passion for doing more. He became a Trustee in August 2017 and took on the role of Treasurer of the Friends.
- Gemma Pask is Senior Copywriter at Christians Against Poverty (CAP), a national debt help charity based in Bradford. She is responsible for managing the website and preparing the newsletter and has been a Trustee since 2021.
- Ade Miller (Treasurer) is a retired company director who looks after the Trustees’ finances and accounts. He became a Trustee in 2021.
- Ruth Mallard lives in Derbyshire and has visited and supported CRS projects in Kolkata since 2015. She has been able to visit four times to date and became a Trustee in 2023.
- Karen Laister is Head of Marketing, Communications and Strategic Relationships at BRF, a Christian charity and the home of Anna Chaplaincy, Living Faith, Messy Church and Parenting for Faith. She has visited Kolkata twice and became a Trustee in 2023.
The Trustees are very grateful for volunteers who freely give their time and expertise to help support the UK Friends and the work of CRS in various ways.
The UK Friends of CRS have circulated newsletters since February 2005 in varying formats. The full set of back issues are below. If you would like to receive the latest newsletter when it is released, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and specify whether you would prefer to receive an electronic copy by email or a printed copy by in the post.
The Friends of CRS is a registered with the Charity Commission in the UK (Charity number 266302) and benefits from tax relief through the Gift Aid scheme.
The annual accounts are subject to independent scrutiny and are filed with the Charity Commission to meet our compliance obligations. They are also freely available to supporters and the general public.
Accounts – 01 Apr 2019 to 31 Mar 2020
Accounts – 01 Apr 2018 to 31 Mar 2019
Accounts – 01 Apr 2017 to 31 Mar 2018
Accounts – 01 Apr 2016 to 31 Mar 2017
Accounts – 01 Apr 2015 to 31 Mar 2016
Accounts – 01 Apr 2014 to 31 Mar 2015
Accounts – 01 Apr 2013 to 31 Mar 2014
Accounts – 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Mar 2013
Accounts – 01 Jan to 31 Dec 2011
Accounts – 01 Jan to 31 Dec 2010
Accounts – 01 Jan to 31 Dec 2009
Accounts – 01 Jan to 31 Dec 2008
Accounts – 01 Jan to 31 Dec 2007
Accounts – 01 Jan to 31 Dec 2006
Accounts – 01 Jan to 31 Dec 2005
Official documents of the UK Friends of CRS
Complaints Policy and Procedure