Christian Aid boss: My ambition is to make my job redundant

Helen Newell (left) and Rosamond Bennett of Christian Aid Ireland with church representatives Canon Mark Niblock, Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar, Fr Martin Magill, Rev Brian Anderson and Rev Richard Johnston at the launch of Christian Aid Week 2017

Helen Newell (left) and Rosamond Bennett of Christian Aid Ireland with church representatives Canon Mark Niblock, Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar, Fr Martin Magill, Rev Brian Anderson and Rev Richard Johnston at the launch of Christian Aid Week 2017

The chief executive of Christian Aid Ireland – Co Antrim woman Rosamond Bennett – has said her greatest achievement would be to work herself out of a job.

This week marks the 60th year of Christian Aid Week and the organisation’s dynamic CEO from Islandmagee is at her happiest when she sees communities it has helped become self-sufficient.

Rosamond Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland

Rosamond Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland

Rosamond turned her back on the corporate world and devoted her life to providing humanitarian aid in 2012.

She explained that it was the death of her mother that led her to reconsider her priorities in life. She said: “I did the eulogy for my mother’s funeral. I was thinking of all the great work she did in the community and I thought to myself, what have I achieved?”

It led Rosamond to take redundancy from the former Northern Bank which she had helped rebrand as Dankse Bank in her role as head of communication.

She said she had always been a supporter of Christian Aid but actually working for the organisation was a huge learning curve.

“In my first year I went to India, Palestine, Israel, Rwanda and Burundi,” she said.

“My role is to understand what conditions are like, what is needed and develop a plan of how we can go and help.

“Every time I came back it was getting harder and harder to deal with, you’re seeing people in really difficult circumstances where they have very, very little.”

It prompted Rosamond to give up luxuries for a year to raise both funds and awareness. Since then, she said her husband Karl and children – Louis, 17, Judy, 15, Reuben, 11 – have learned to live more frugally and as a result her wider family have spent more time enjoying ‘free’ activities.

Of the contrast between her two most recent jobs she said: “With the bank you travelled business class and stayed in hotels. It wasn’t lavish, it was considered normal, but now we’re doing things differently. My last trip to Colombia was a 12-hour flight in economy class. In the place I was staying the bats were flying in and out of the room above my head.

“I’ve staying in people’s houses, in huts. It makes you appreciate your own home.”

She added: “Like my time at the bank, we still have objectives and targets but the difference is what happens if I fail to meet them now. If I don’t hit my fundraising targets, it will have a major impact on the lives of people who need our help. That’s what keeps me awake at night.”

She said: “I’ve met with communities we’ve helped in India and Rwanda in the 1970s and now they are totally self-sufficient.

“That’s what I should be doing, ultimately working myself out of a job. If you tackle the root causes of why people need help that’s how you get them back on their feet again.”