Oxfam Pramble 2011

Last weekend I was down at the Millennium Bridge in London to welcome the Oxfam Pramble team. So what is it all about?

Let some of the volunteers tell you themselves:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT2ljpWDL-4]

Have a look at  their route, all the way from London to Manchester showing their interactive journey!

[googlemaps http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=206783798818312886673.00049811380386eebf0da&source=embed&ll=52.526926,-1.941093&spn=1.902806,1.901128&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Another cool part of the finish line was a huge pregnant giant, made by the Chester Giants, listen to what they had to say :

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8PhBPzxLiI]

Highlighting the importance of maternal health is important for us all, as a good start in life impacts ones future prospects. Have a look at more photos on the Oxfam Pramble here. Well done everyone!

Last week I had the chance to pop down to the Dalston Oxfam shop in Hackney to go to the Valentine’s climate change action evening. Kevin the Manager was on the door and told me “it’s nice to use the shop as a campaign outlet for Oxfam, as not everyone knows about our work. It’s good to have people here to spread the word about working in developing countries”.

As I worked my way around the shop, it was a hive of activity. A clothes swap was on the cards later in the evening, so people were busy giving in their clothes and making tags to give the new owner a little bit of its history. In the corner, people were creating Valentine’s cards for their MPs, asking them to contact Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. The action was to hear how the government planned to contribute to the newly created global green fund. As part of the evening, Hackney MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Meg Hillier, was there to receive her card signed by over 40 of her constituents. I caught up with her to ask a few questions….

What do you think about the event tonight and why did you decide to come down?

MH: Oxfam does very good work on international development issues and particularly on climate change. I think it is important to support NGOs that are doing such good work. It’s great to see the enthusiasm from Hackney residents and others and I love it when people come to Hackney too, to come and support the work of Oxfam. One of the things about my job, is that it’s important to hear what people think both about how the government is doing and what governments around the world should be doing. It is important that politics and politicians do reflect what people think and to do that, we talk to people. Although I talk to people on doorsteps, I have to say on the whole that people don’t raise climate change when I knock on their door as an MP, so tonight is quite nice to listen to people discussing this issue.

What do you think are the key issues that should be pushed through with regards to climate change in the next year?

MH: In global terms, I do think it’s about laying the groundwork now for a good outcome at the next UN Climate Change Conference in South Africa, and to see if we can move forward, particularly on climate finance. I did actually speak to the minister about this before he went out and I know that the British government were trying to get some sort of private finance element of the international finance worked out.

It really is important that countries developing are able to mitigate the worst impact of carbon emissions and build new industries that are greener and to create jobs for their population as well. If we don’t help them now, it will be bad for both them and the planet. The international picture is important, so we have got to get it right. Domestically, I think we need to see the government this year acting decisively on all the investment vehicles for creating green jobs and growth; because we must reach our climate target and it does not look like we are going to do that at this moment in time. Actually, we should be thinking about setting more ambitious ones, and also if we do not create, those jobs in the UK will go somewhere else. We might as well have a double win by reducing carbon emissions and have long term sustainable jobs created here. We must be sustainable – both socially and environmentally – so I think it’s important that the government make a decision this year and get some investment into the UK.

It was good to see a great mix of people at the evening. The importance of highlighting development issues in a range of ways is key to keep the momentum going. To hijack a bit of Valentine’s love is great and I look forward to more antics on International Women’s Day.

As posted on the Oxfam South East Blog

The Billionaire, The Rock Star and Us

On Monday evening I had the chance to go along to Living Proof, which was hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates, and attended by many of the international development world including DFID Ministers, heads of all major NGO’s and lets not forget ONE co founder Bono. I bumped into my fellow campaigner Jen Crago (Outreach Campaign Coordinator, London for OXFAM). Here is her take on the night:

Occasionally, and I am sure that any seasoned campaigner will sympathise, you feel like all of your efforts have been wasted. This week has been different; notably fantastic re-affirmation from George Osbourne that Britain is on track to deliver its promised 0.7% of GNI as ODA by 2013, and also the launch of ONE’s ‘Living Proof’ with Bill and Melinda Gates at London’s Science Museum on Monday night. The two of us were fortunate enough to be invited to attend.

Bill and Melinda presented a story, full of the charts and graphs that you would naturally expect from the mind behind Microsoft, that we don’t hear often enough; 99% reduction in Polio, 98 million less people going hungry in 2010 than there were last year, 500 million anti-malarial bed nets which are saving 200,000 lives per year. Proof that over the past decade smart aid has achieved real, demonstratable results. They also offered a sincere expression of appreciation to Britain (naming some of our largest NGO’s, including Oxfam) for all of our efforts to end extreme poverty and our leadership on the world stage.

Following the presentation we attended a reception where Jen had the pleasure to chat with Oxfam’s own Duncan Greene, personally thank Andrew Mitchell, our Secretary of State for International Development, for his reassurance of the governments promise to deliver and not make cut backs to spending on aid and development, and also chat with numerous fellow development sector professionals, journalists and economists. Adizah took the opportunity to speak with Bill Gates, shake his hand, and tell him how impressed she is with the work that he and his wife, Melinda, are doing, especially in the eyes of a 21 year old.

Me, Bono and Jen

Continue reading “The Billionaire, The Rock Star and Us”

Shout about it!!

Last Saturday I shouted and shouted and shouted some more! What about? Well MDGs (the Millennium Development Goals). This week that is what world leaders (or their deputy ministers in some cases) turned their attention to New York at the United Nations MDG Summit. I thought it best I shout my message out through a shiny gold megaphone at Westminster .

What I didn’t know would happen was that my voice would be heard world-wide in a video made that day as part of the Stand Up 2010 global campaign. I’m about 3 mins in talking about our generations rights. This was all part of a great day of Media Training hosted by Oxfam GB (thank you). I thought it would involve being be stuck in an office, but the Oxfam team were great, getting out and about and being involved in an event such as Stand Up 2010!! I was totally unprepared to talk at the event so I just said what I felt that day!!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z699KYWG_JM]

So the summit is now over, I have had a manic week and I’m going to take a few days to read about the outcomes of the summit and make my own mind up!!

Nothing to do this summer? ……………Why not volunteer.

As summer approaches there are many students looking for something to do with their time. With many of us struggling to find a job an alternative is to volunteer or be an intern. I have been volunteering for a while with many different types of organisations.

It began with Orange RockCrops in 2008 where the concept is that you volunteer for four hours and in return Orange will give you a concert ticket at the great Royal Albert Hall. Since then the idea has grown and so has the support with the likes of Lady Gaga, Snoop Dog and Tiny Tempah all showing their support. Click here for Orange RockCorps, Give and Get given.

Next in my volunteer journey was Platform 2. This was an experience that allowed me to go away for 10 weeks to volunteer in Kasapin, Ghana. I had an amazing time and learnt so much about another aspect of volunteering. It was a fully funded volunteer scheme, funded by the Department of International Development and run by Christian Aid and BUNAC. Since coming back I have been given the platform to express my experience in a range of ways from writing in my university newspaper to giving talks at a range of events. Platform 2 is still going on so click here to find out how you can also take part.


Next was Oxfam and the East London Campaigns Group. I thought it would be good to do something a bit more local. So I join the East London Campaigns Group. I love the flexibility of helping out where I can which let volunteering fit around me. Yaarah Schools is another way I involve myself in volunteering as it is a charitable cause that is helping improve the learning of children in villages around the world.

Overall, I am an exception to the rule as I have my fingers in many different aspects of volunteering. Yet this has allowed me to learn so much and also boost so many different skills. In this economic climate volunteering is one way of put yourself out there, showing a different aspect that you have to give. Employers would rather have an active person who is well rounded and volunteering helps do this. So enjoy and get involved this summer :).

DFID, OXFAM & AID

Yesterday, I attended the speech of Andrew Mitchell at Oxfam’s 21st Century Aid report launch event, at the Royal Society in London. Here is a link to some of his main points. He also answered some of the questions posed to him by OXFAM supporters. One of which was my own focused on awareness raising. My concern was about who is expected to fill the gap and continue in increasing the knowledge of the British public regarding understanding development issues in a holistic way? Is it not the governments role to help improve knowledge through effective awareness raising to increase the understanding of where tax payers money is going and being spent? £55,000 has been cut from music stalls at festivals, this is an avenue for many young people to get a better understanding of development issues, which is equally as important for a holistic approach to aid and development. Here is his response:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuaZD6bgw0A&feature=player_embedded]

Development awareness is important. It was a DFID scheme Platform 2 which helps increase awareness that allowed me to get a better understanding of development issues first hand. It is important that something fills the gap for awareness raising as how is the tax payer meant to understand where their money is going without the information and knowledge to do so properly.

OXFAM Tea Party

We all know that a lot of hip people are moving east these days. Well Oxfam have set up an East London Oxfam Campaigning Group in order to foster more involvement in the loving East End. Come along to the Tea Party on the 6th of June at Tina We Salute You @ 5-8pm and have some cake and tea and soak up the fun atmosphere. See you there!!!

p.s The next meeting will be on Monday 14 June from 7-8pm at the Gallery Cafe in

Bethnal Green.