New NI Director appointed: meet Ruth Koch!

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Tearfund’s new Northern Ireland Director, Ruth Koch. Ruth will begin work at the start of next month, and will be welcomed by a very excited staff team in Belfast.

You will have many opportunities to get to know Ruth throughout the coming months, but I decided to sit her down and ask her some questions in advance of her arrival. I think you’ll see why we’re so looking forward to having her with us!

Welcome, Ruth! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello! I'm married to an Ulsterman called Aaron and we have a little boy Seth who is two. I grew up in a small town, tucked away in the Yorkshire hills, called Holmfirth (which may sound familiar to those who remember the old TV programme Last of the Summer Wine!) Since then, I have travelled a bit and most recently lived in London.

You've worked for Tearfund for a while now. Talk us through your journey in the organisation.

Joining Tearfund in 2010 was a dream come true! Tearfund's approach to releasing people from both material and spiritual poverty through the local church was something I really wanted to be part of. I first joined as a Specialist Volunteer Manager looking after local Tearfund volunteers. Then, I moved on to be the head of UK Volunteering leading a team of committed volunteer managers who worked with community fundraisers (developing things like Big Bake, and Tearfund speakers, training and supporting our speakers to inspire the church about God's work around the world). After doing lots of work in the UK Churches team, I moved over to our advocacy team to equip Christians and churches in the UK to tackle the root causes of poverty. I have worked on campaigns like Enough Food IF, in which NI supporters played a significant role, aimed at the G8 meeting in Enniskillen.

What prompted you to take on the role of NI Director?

I'm passionate about the UK Church responding to the needs of people living in poverty - and having seen Tearfund's work on the ground, it is exceptional. I have lots of family ties with Northern Ireland and have followed Tearfund's work in the nation closely over the years. A while back, I actually joked with Tim Magowan that I wanted his job!

I dedicated some time this year to focus on what God might be calling me to do next in my life: this opportunity arose and after a lot of prayer and reflection, I felt it was right to push the door. Being NI Director means I can combine my experience working across Tearfund to help Christians in Northern Ireland to respond holistically to the needs of those in poverty: whether that's through giving, prayer or through their own actions. I love spending time with Tearfund supporters and bringing them closer to the people we work with. This role will enable me to do that and to work with an outstanding team!

What are you most looking forward to about the work?

I am really looking forward to meeting supporters, volunteers and church leaders across the country. In 2018 Tearfund will be 50 years old; and although we have seen God transform many lives there is still so much do! I am looking forward to working with the NI team and Christians in Northern Ireland to together rise up prayer, giving and our actions to release people from material and spiritual poverty.

And what are you most looking forward to about living in NI?

Honestly, there is so much! The three of us are really looking forward to being closer to our family. We are excited for what God has in store for us in a new church. And having come from the North of England, I love how friendly and welcoming people are in Northern Ireland - it will be so refreshing to be able to say hello to people which just doesn't happen in London! I'm also looking forward to being nearer the sea, the beautiful countryside and soda bread. Unfortunately, I'm not a coconut fan so I'm less looking forward to fifteens but I am very partial to a Malteser slice!

Please join us in praying for Ruth, Aaron and Seth as they set up home in Northern Ireland.