By Matt Bell, Grassroots Campaigner from London.
In July I went to the RESULTS International Conference in Washington DC with 530 other grassroot volunteers and partners from 23 countries.
The first 3 days of the conference were used to get to know other RESULTS volunteers from around the world and share ideas and opinions, hearing from inspirational speakers and to learn, improve and sharpen advocacy skills through training sessions and interactive workshops. Then on the last day, we used what we had learnt to lobby and influence policy makers in Capitol Hill.
On the Lobby Day I joined grassroots volunteers from Indiana to meet their congressman and senators or their aides to discuss domestic and global poverty. There were several powerful stories from the volunteers when talking about poverty within the US including a man who had been homeless for 15 years and a woman who wouldn’t be able to feed her 5 kids if the proposed cuts to the food stamp program went ahead. I could see these stories had an impact on the parliamentarians and will hopefully effect the decisions they make. The main ask they had for their representatives regarding global poverty was to support legislation to build programs to end preventable child and maternal deaths, and as one senators aide put it “Who could oppose that?” They were also asking the senators and congressmen to sign the Global TB Caucus, which was started by the APPG on Global TB supported by RESULTS UK.
There were a lot of highlights from the conference, but my favourite moment was hearing from Jeff Sachs, a world-renowned leader in sustainable development, who spoke about the SDG’s and the financing summit in Addis. Two things he said that stood out for me were “RESULTS is the greatest organisation imaginable” and that it’s up to all of us to make sure the SDG’s are achieved. We also heard from Jim Kim, President of the World Bank who spoke about investing in people and economic growth to lift people out of extreme poverty. Another highlight for me was hearing about all the successes Results has had over the last 35 years and seeing how what we do makes a difference and really can change the world.
The final highlight for me isn’t a specific one but just generally all the people I met while I was at the conference, not just the keynote speakers but all the volunteers and staff who had this energy / enthusiasm and belief to make a difference for things they care about. It was kind of contagious and I definitely left feeling inspired + motivated. It’s like we’ve been set a challenge to end extreme poverty by 2030 and I think it’s achievable.
I would recommend going to the conference to anyone who reads this, I had a great time, met some really cool people and learnt so much in just a few days. Also Washington’s a great city; I had time to see the White House, all the monument and loads of nice bars and restaurants.