HEKS/EPER and «Bread for All» embark on the New Year together
The merger of HEKS/EPER and «Bread for All» became legally valid on 22 November 2021 with the inscription of the new foundation in the commercial register. The newly formed organization also launched its operations on 1 January of this year under the name «Swiss Church Aid» (HEKS/EPER).
Planning for the merger began in September 2018 when the Boards of Trustees of both agencies took a decision in principle to merge the two organizations. The merger became legally valid upon inscription in the commercial register on 22 November 2021. On 1 January 2022, the new agency made its operational debut as well, under the name Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER), also with a new visual appearance. The new logo signifies the emergence into a common future, continuity in programme work and in the HEKS/EPER commitment to development and social policy.
With their merger, HEKS/EPER and «Bread for All» are buttressing their position and competitiveness in an ever more competitive environment. At the same time, the effectiveness of projects and activities at home and abroad can be enhanced. In particular, the linking of development policy with programme work at home and abroad creates meaningful synergies.
Four priority areas
Through its focus on the four priorities of climate justice, access to land and food, flight and migration, and integration/inclusion, HEKS/EPER strives for systemic change – worldwide and in Switzerland.
The consequences of the climate crisis are being felt ever more distinctly around the world: heavy rainfall, flooding, extreme drought, melting glaciers and low-lying coasts disappearing into the sea. While the industrialised nations are the ones mainly responsible for global warming, it is mainly the people in poor countries south of the equator who suffer the consequences. This is what motivates HEKS/EPER and its partner organizations to militate for greater climate justice.
Social inequality is growing worse around the world and in Switzerland. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend. Not only must underprivileged people grapple with financial woes, they are often also stigmatised and socially marginalised.
Enough food is produced overall to feed the entire world population. Yet more than 960 million people are experiencing hunger around the world. Through its programme work, HEKS/EPER therefore strives to ensure that peasant farmers, pastoralist families and traditional communities such as indigenous peoples have control over land, water and seeds.
Since its founding in 1946, the work of HEKS/EPER has been shaped by advocacy on behalf of refugees and displaced persons. In Switzerland today, HEKS/EPER provides legal representation and advice to refugees and asylum seekers and, through various integration projects, promotes migrant participation in social life on an equal basis.
The Ecumenical Campaign, which HEKS/EPER is continuing to implement jointly with its Catholic sister organization «Fastenaktion» (formerly «Fastenopfer») remains a critical cornerstone of development and social policy work.
Programme and project work in Switzerland and beyond will also continue on the same scale as hitherto. In over 30 countries across four continents, HEKS/EPER supports development cooperation projects to combat poverty and injustice. Other priorities are humanitarian aid for victims of armed conflicts and those of disasters stemming from natural hazards, and the diaconal work of churches in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In Switzerland, advocacy for the rights of refugees and the socially disadvantaged remains one of HEKS/EPER's core concerns.
Head office stays in Zurich
The new organization’s head office is located in Zurich. Moreover, HEKS/EPER continues to be present with six Business Offices in the regions of Aargau/Solothurn, Rural Basel/Basel City, Berne, Eastern Switzerland, Zurich/Schaffhausen and in French-speaking Switzerland. Peter Merz will remain Director of HEKS/EPER, while Bernard DuPasquier, hitherto Managing Director of «Bread for All», will be Deputy-Director and, more specifically, will represent the management in French-speaking Switzerland. The new, twelve-member Board of Trustees comprises representatives of the two former Boards of Trustees of HEKS/EPER and «Bread for All». It will be led by the present HEKS/EPER Board of Trustees Chairperson, Walter Schmid. Deputy-Chairpersons will be Michèle Künzler (hitherto at HEKS/EPER) and Jeanne Pestalozzi, up to now Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of «Bread for All».