A crowd of some hundreds gathered in the icy cold of the quad at Somerset House tonight to mark the possibility of changing the world.
|Before the crowds arrived.|
Charities, NGOs, faith groups and committed individuals shivered, texted, tweeted in solidarity as the new multi-agency campaign IF was launched by celebrities from business, screen, sport and entertainment. There's something almost uniquely British about the sound of mittens and gloves clapping in muffled appreciation of people preaching to the converted!
As Enough Food for Everyone - If was being launched in Parliament, it was also being live streamed from the more public event at Somerset House, the place we used to get our passports from. Passports are about identity and crossing borders - we need to be part of a new human identity with the ability to cross borders of the causes of hunger and that is what the IF campaign is all about.
These agencies, including MRDF, The Methodist Church, Christian Aid and Traidcraft (and almost 100 others) are working together to bring an end to hunger. In the hour we watched classy graphics and listened to guests remind us why this all matters, 200 children died of malnutrition. That hour and every hour and what is so heartbreaking is that it doesn't have to be this way.... if
... we work together in this campaign on FOUR BIG IFS...
IF we stop big companies dodging taxes in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.
IF we make the right investments to stop people dying from hunger, and help the poorest people feed themselves.
IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use crops to feed people, not fuel cars.
IF we force governments and big corporations to be honest and open about their actions that stop people getting enough food.
This new campaign is going to be on the scale of Make Poverty History, if we get behind it. There are key dates and events throughout the year when together our voices can convince Governments to make real commitments to save the lives of millions.
Here's Bill Gates, who sent a message to the launch:
Another Bill spoke at the launch - Actor Bill Nighy, who reminded us that many gathered there would never have believed that apartheid would end in South Africa, yet Mandela is free and that regime is long gone and that Nelson Mandela made a point of thanking the millions who marched, wrote letters, campaigned and got together to end that injustice. It worked then, why can't such action work now? In fact what else will?
Bonnie Wright (who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films) spoke about getting young people involved. She pointed out that her generation were born after apartheid, they don't have the experience of those marches and movements of mass concern. But they care and they have social networking and if they catch a vision and are helped to believe that working together changes things, they will get behind this.
What next? Sign up at enoughfoodif.org to get news. I'm going to be looking for London Methodists who want to get behind this campaign, so contact me if you can help.