Last Tuesday, 65 campaigners from across the UK assembled in Parliament for a day of action to mark World Poverty Day. Their mission? To celebrate UK leadership on international development and to urge MPs to make sure UK aid is spent effectively. This guest blog post comes from Calum Kinsella from the London group, one of 11 campaigners from the RESULTS network who joined us on the day.
Several RESULTS campaigners met in Westminster on Tuesday 17th October at the #EndPoverty lobby day. The day marked the 25th anniversary of the declaration of 17th October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty with the theme being set by the UN as 'A path towards peaceful and inclusive societies'. The particular focus for this lobby day was to champion UK aid and global leadership, as well as urging greater scrutiny and improved spending.
In the morning, 11 campaigners from RESULTS met with approximately 55 campaigners from a range of organisations. In total, 11 organisations were represented (RESULTS UK, Save the Children, VSO, ActionAid, Tearfund, Water Aid, Islamic Relief, CAFOD, Restless Development, Unicef UK and ONE). There were plenty of activities lined up to allow everyone to share ideas and understand why now is a particularly important time to celebrate what UK aid has achieved and encourage politicians to build on its successes. It was also a chance to practice the conversations we would soon be having with our MPs and to make final meeting arrangements with them.
The atmosphere inside the briefing hall was one of optimism and anticipation as the time drew near to make the short walk over to the lawn outside Westminster Abbey to have our picture taken in front of the Houses of Parliament.
Once inside Portcullis House, we convened in the Boothroyd Room which overlooks Westminster Bridge to wait for our MPs to arrive. The conversations were of a high quality, with many MPs pledging their support for UK aid and explaining how they would be willing to publicly defend it. Several campaigners also advocated for the need to scrutinise how UK aid is spent and make sure it helps the world's poorest. Campaigners also called for it to be delivered primarily by an independent department (DFID). The event was very well attended by MPs with 28 parliamentarians coming along, including 2 Lords and Jeremy Corbyn.
All campaigners rose to the challenge of explaining the value of UK aid. There was also a lot of learning that we will take back to our respective constituencies and grassroots groups to ensure our voices continue to change the world.