Revd Bemard Cocker began Intemational Aid Trust in 1991, following a visit to the former Soviet Union, where he saw images of pain and suffering that would never leave him. He believed he had no option but to try to make a difference. 15 years later, Bernard heads up a large intemational charity based just outside Preston, here in the North-West.
lAT Works in the UK by helping the needy through a network of other UK charities; working with the Prison Service on the rehabilitation of offenders, by providing training for the long tenn unemployed, and serving thousands of needy families through a network of shops.
Overseas, lAT works mainly in Eastem Europe, but also has projects in Africa and Asia. In 2004 the focus of attention was on the tsunami disaster earthquake in Pakistan and floods in Eastern Europe - with hundreds of tonnes of aid sent within days to provide immediate relief: medicines, shelter, basic food, etc.
But it is the long term care of people, who are destitute, which is the main focus of tlle charity's attention. In Sri Lanka, this is very much in conjunction with Rotary, and the projects there form a separate presentation. At the same time, lAT must ensure that the desperate in other parts of the world are not neglected or forgotten.
In 2006, IAT spent nearly £IM to fund the work overseas, together with the supply of over £IM of material aid shipped from their UK HQ in the form of everything from second-hand clothing to paint, medicines to pasta, toys to hospital beds.
50% of the funds used are generated from a network of over 20 shops. These are nearly all situated in areas in the UK of great need and so, by selling donated goods as cheaply as possible IAT is able to provide real help to local families, at the same time as raising money for the work overseas.

Our Church has been supporting this charity for a good number of years. The charity began when the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe began to tumble, borders were opened, and people went in. 
   They found soaring poverty and deprivation, especially amongst children. People started driving in with van loads of aid. A couple of groups in North Lancashire joined, and so International Aid Trust was born. Still, the needs of Eastern Europe (particularly Ukraine and Belarus) are the main focus. But help is also being given to projects in Africa, India and Sri Lanka. 
   Our main support of I.A.T. at the moment is through our annual shoebox appeal and through the ‘Dolls’ group. Our shoeboxes this year went to a small town in Ukraine, called Kremenchuk – situated in the countryside between Kiev and the Black Sea. The Dolls group beavers away throughout the year, recycling dolls and soft toys, and knitting garments and blankets. Thanks are due to all who have worked and donated, and who continue to be involved. 
   Over the years, I have accepted clothes, bric-a-brac, children’s things, furniture, etc, for the I.A.T. charity shops in Morecambe, but I feel it is time for me to stop doing this. A newer and very good I.A.T. shop/outlet has opened in Station Road, Carnforth, and if you wish, donations can be taken there. And for larger items, the van will still come over to Kendal, if ordered, through the Morecambe shops. Do ask me if you want advice!