Today’s blog comes from RESULTS volunteer Gillian Price; Gill is a long term member of our Stort Valley group. On Wednesday she attended a CAFOD organised lobby of Parliament to speak with MPs ahead of the June 8th Hunger Summit
IF – Religious lobby of parliament 15 May 2013
This event was billed in development circles as ‘The 500 nuns lobby’. On the 15th May, 250 religious, priests and associates (Catholic and Anglican) gathered in Methodist Central Hall for a lively service and briefing from various ‘IF’ NGOs. Timothy Radcliffe gave an inspiring talk suggesting that, ‘Starvation is the exclusion of people from the common table of humanity’. There was amazing energy around as we picked up banners, writing the name of our group on the back, paused for a photo call and processed to Westminster. Someone had had some ‘punning’ fun with the banners – including: ‘Hunger shouldn’t be a habit)!
81% of the 250 met with our MP or their office staff. I and four Asian sisters met for 40 minutes with Charles Rowley, my MP’s Parliamentary Secretary. I pressed home the RESULTS ‘asks’ on undernutrition, the IF campaign asks on tax, transparency and nutrition and (at his request) gave him an update on TB/miners including news of Mr Mkoko – I also sneaked in cheeky asks on committing to the global fund; enshrining 0.7% in law; disability and education, as well as thanking him profusely for commitments on polio vaccine, 0.7%; ‘the hunger summit’ and asked that the government deliver on its pledges. Charles promised that he would pass the information over to Mark Prisk and that they would tell us what they had done. The sisters from Asia gave great practical stories of the effects of undernutrition from Pakistan, Nepal and India and I told him about how under-nutrition impacts on TB treatment in Cameroun, telling him of the nutrition programme we are using there along with the drug treatment. He was very interested in Walter Nyika’s story of how food availability in Zimbabwe has changed. I gave Charles an IF wrist band and badge along with the briefing papers.
All around Westminster hall there were groups of people gathered round their MPs pressing home their ‘asks’. Ed Miliband, Alan Duncan and Ivan Lewis gave short addresses and the place was a buzz of energy. Back in Methodist central hall for the final liturgy Sarah Tether told us how motivating it is for her to have committed people like us coming along with strong asks. For many it was the first time lobbying, but afterwards people said how good it was and that they would definitely be lobbying again. It was strange lobbying without the RESULTS gang, and a very different, but positive experience being part of a large lobby – there were even chairs put out for us. We meet again for the IF rally on 8 June with the strap line –
‘8 leaders. 8 June. Our chance to stop 1 in 8 people going hungry’