Two weeks ago we wrote about the pressures facing the UK government in trying to keep its commitments to the world’s poorest in the forthcoming UK budget. Against a chorus of negative media articles about aid, we asked for people to take action to show that positive support for international aid does exist, and to contact their MPs to ensure they know how vital the UK’s commitment to the 0.7% aid target is to the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide. The response has been overwhelming.
Hundreds of people have responded and taken action online and in their communities. From tweeting their MP to writing letters, starting Facebook groups and getting out and spreading the word, our supporters and Global Poverty Ambassadors have energetically and passionately set about proving to decision makers in Westminster that the public support efforts to end extreme poverty, and do not want to see the good work of DFID cut.
Despite the recent negative headlines, our campaign has demonstrated that there is genuine public support for our country to keep it’s promises and meet the 0.7% target. And our work has been noticed. With our supporters doing such incredible work, we wanted to take this message even further. So on Tuesday the 6th of March, we took a group of campaigners and Global Poverty Ambassadors, to Westminster to say a big ‘thank you!’ to those MPs that despite negative media pressure have continue to stand up and fight to protect the UK’s commitment to the world’s poorest people. One of the Ambassadors who joined us, Claire Griffiths, has sent us her experience of the day:
“As a Global Poverty Project (GPP) Ambassador I was instantly inspired to act on the Protect Point 7 campaign that was launched by the GPP last month. With some fellow ambassadors, we quickly set about to spark off a large scale ‘facebook thank you’ to show the government how grateful we are for their continued support of the 0.7% target. We asked anyone we could find: our friends on facebook, our followers on twitter and the residents of our local communities. In turn they have asked their friends, their followers and the residents of their communities and the response has been amazing.
But it wasn’t enough to just show support online. Yesterday we took the overwhelming support we have received from the British public with us to Parliament. Sporting an impressive collage of over 90 photos we went talked with MPs and told them how thankful we were for their amazing work. The list of politicians willing to meet us was amazing. We were greeted by Baroness Jenkin, Co-Chair the Conservative Friends of International Development, ex-Shadow DFID Minister Mark Lazarowicz MP, and Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar MP who were all incredibly positive about our message of thanks, and told us how important our campaign was in convincing them that public support remained high.
But the highlight of the day was yet to come. Thanks to the amazing support people had given to our campaign, we were able to meet with the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Ivan Lewis MP and the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP. It was inspirational to meet members of two different parties who were both working hard to abide by the UK’s promise of 0.7% regardless of differing political ideologies. Even more inspiring are the assurances given by each of these individuals that the international development agenda is certainly not being forgotten and is not deemed to be under threat despite increasing media pressure.
By the end of the morning I felt energised to carry on this campaign with more enthusiasm than ever. After our message of thanks, we left having been told by the two most senior Politicians in UK development, that there is a consensus around parliament that international development is vital, that the public are in support and that everyone involved in the GPP campaign are helping ensure we will make the UK's 0.7% commitment happen”.