Ben Thomas is an ActionAid Local Organiser – part of our UK-wide network of campaigners that take action locally to tackle global poverty and injustice. Ben took our Fearless campaign to LeftFest - a local political festival in Southampton - to spread the word. Here’s how he got on, and why he’s campaigning for ActionAid.
Joining the ActionAid team has been an inspiring experience. On our recent training weekend we learned about the new Fearless campaign, and ActionAid's work on women's rights, and shared stories of brave women we know.
My ‘fearless women’ are from my wife’s family who stood up to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Standing up to Apartheid in South Africa
In the photo below, I am in the middle at the back, and the lady next to me is my wife’s aunt, Betty van der Heyden. She spent time in prison and under house arrest for standing up against apartheid, and advised the first African National Congress (ANC) government.
In the face of shocking brutality and long prison sentences, Betty and her family felt able to make a stand because they knew they had support not only from their community, but from others around the world who stood with them against injustice.
The Fearless campaign does the same. It shows grassroots women’s groups that the people of the UK stand with them to end violence against women and girls.
In the run-up to the UN General Assembly in September, we are making sure the government really feel the pressure to do more to stop the violence.
Community campaigning at LeftFest
With the help of my wife Emily, and another Local Organiser, Maria, I recently ran my first stall in Southampton as part of LeftFest.
Although a little nervous talking to people at first, I soon settled into it and enjoyed telling people about the campaign. One veteran ActionAid supporter said on the day; “This is such an important issue, I’m so glad ActionAid are getting behind this because I know you make a real difference”.
Running this stall was an exciting experience, and I am looking forward to my next one in Portsmouth. I hope to be able to grow more support for ActionAid on the south coast.
Want to get more involved with our campaigns like Ben?