It’s not every day that over 1,200 ordinary men and women – some who travelled from as far away as Isle of Skye – come together in London to meet their MPs.
That’s what happened at yesterday at Tea time for change, a mass lobby of parliament where over 131 MPs (roughly a fifth of parliament) were met by their constituents. Over a cup of tea, the MPs were given credit for the cross-party consensus on overseas aid and were pressed about what more the UK government should be doing to help lift countries out of poverty for good.
Supporters from ActionAid, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children, Cafod and Tearfund thanked MPs for their support for aid and urged them to call on the UK government to tackle other key obstacles facing developing countries. Chief among them: tax dodging by multinational companies.
Re-iterating the government’s commitment to the 0.7% target on overseas aid, Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP told the crowd that: "Charity begins at home, but does not end at home." He urged supporters: "When today ends, don’t stop what you’ve been doing here today."
Adwoa Kwateng-Kluvitse, Country Director for ActionAid Ghana addressed the crowd saying, “I am so glad to see so many of you here today, and I want to share an African proverb because to me it sums up why you are here: 'when spiders web unite they can tie up a lion.'" She thanked the government for its commitment to aid, and said: “And I would ask you to go with us a little further to tackle the bad tax practices that are costing my country so much.”
ActionAid UK's Head of Campaigns Jenny Ricks said "It was fantastic to see so many ActionAid supporters yesterday making the trip to Westminster for Tea time for change and raising their voices in support of international development."
"It’s so important that politicians hear how passionate people in their constituencies are about making a difference for the world’s poorest people. There was a great atmosphere, and it showed how powerful it is when people come together and have a face to face conversation with their MPs to make their points."
"But of course it doesn’t stop here – we need them press MPs on the actions they committed to take on delivering the 0.7% aid promise, tackling tax dodging by multinationals and supporting a Robin Hood Tax."
Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, has a cup of tea with CAFOD Director Chris Bain and Adwoa Kluvitse-Kwateng from ActionAid Ghana.
A group of Mrs Doyles brew up a protest, calling for an end to global poverty.
ActionAid UK's Head of Campaigns Jenny Ricks talking with Jeremy Corbyn MP and constituents.
The artists from Drawnalism create a giant picture to illustrate the day.
Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development addresses supporters at Tea time for change.
Comedienne and ActionAid supporter Jan Ravens makes the crowd laugh
Jan Ravens takes the stage at Tea time for change with Oxfam's Adam Askew, Harriet Harman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development and Abi Akinye from Tearfund.
Thanks to everyone who came. None of those politicians we talked to are ever going to forget it.
(Photos: Mark Chilvers/Amy Scaife/ActionAid)