This guest blog post was written by London RESULTS Group member Stephen Richards. Stephen graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2012 with a B.A. in philosophy and has been volunteering with RESULTS UK since 2016. He enjoys advocacy mainly for the people and chance to make a bigger difference, but also so he can share his homemade hummus at meetings.
This post was first published on https://resultslondon.wordpress.com.
Just round the corner from Kings Cross lies the NVCO, or National Council For Voluntary Organisations, gently nestled by the canal and the host of this year’s RESULTS UK National Conference. This year was my first time at the conference and I’m delighted that I went. We had a fantastic set of speakers and a really inspiring crowd of grassroots volunteers from all around the country who’d come to London to meet, discuss, learn and exchange ideas on all our campaigns, both past and future. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the UK’s role in international development and how you can be involved in making a real difference to ending extreme poverty.
Communicating with MPs is one of the most effective ways of volunteering for RESULTS, which is why I paid close attention to the conference talk “Engaging for Success” by Michaela O’Brien, who lectures in Media, Campaigning and Social Change at the University of Westminster. The talk included valuable insights into choosing what kind of factors will influence different people, depending on their motivations, using a model that (broadly) divides personality types into “Pioneers, Prospectors and Settlers”.
I found Michaela’s talk particularly useful because on Monday two groups of volunteers were headed straight to Westminster to spend a full day talking with representatives of DFID, along with influential MPs in the field of international development. My group had sessions with Ellie Reeves (shadow minister for International Development) and Lloyd Russell-Moyle (a member of the cross-party Select Committee for International Development). Both discussions were very productive, allowing us not just to ask questions about policy but also give feedback on what we have learned as campaigners, something everyone we spoke to was very keen to hear about (we have even been invited to contribute feedback to Labour’s International Development policy). One of the things I like about RESULTS is the great variety in the age and demographics of our volunteers: in a single meeting we could fit in detailed questions on policy from campaigners with decades of experience alongside questions from students about how our education system incorporates the Global Goals.
Overall, it was an intense weekend with a lot to absorb (and write about, as you can see). I could write for pages about all the useful things I learned and how humbled I am by so many of the people I met. But for now I’ll leave it at that and recommend you join us for our next conference call in July.