Norwich SPEAK team joins London IF rally
Campaigners from the Christian-based Norwich SPEAK group joined 45,000 others in Hyde Park, London, calling for an end to hunger, under the global banner of the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ campaign. Alaine Mukene from SPEAK reports.
SPEAK is a national movement of young people praying and taking informed action on social justice issues which was born at UEA, Norwich, and has grown steadily both nationally and internationally. Norwich SPEAK, a group representing several city churches, has lobbied our local MP and our country’s PM, has praised and protested, and has vocally and visually taken action both in the City of London and on the streets of Norwich.
Norwich SPEAK is currently especially concerned with fair tax, corporate responsibility and food security issues: praying and organising events and actions both locally and in the capital to call for change and to thank those who are successfully making a difference. For the ‘BIG IF’ campaign several national SPEAK groups joined together, to elevate their voices as one for change.
A small group from Norwich SPEAK went to London on June 8 over concern at the injustice of a world where every year over 3 million children are stunted, malformed or die from malnutrition. A world where every single day 1 in 8 people on earth do not have enough to eat.
This is unacceptable and diabolical – but it is also preventable. There IS enough for everyone. The IF campaign highlights how our food system is sustainable, IF we sharpen up on 4 main areas: Aid, land, tax and transparency. This is explored in depth on the Enough Food IF website: www.enoughfoodif.org/issues . However, a couple of the policy changes demanded include: Giving people in developing countries more control over their land by protecting poor farmers from land grabs and using land to grow food not bio-fuels, and clamping down on tax havens to stop the billions of pounds that flow out of developing countries.
Lizzie Baker, Joint Coordinator of Norwich SPEAK expressed the group’s ethos. She said: “Poverty is mentioned over 2,100 times in the Bible, so it’s clearly an issue which was on Jesus’ heart and should be on ours too. Rooted in faith and commitment we can be faithful in prayer and act with humanity and selflessness in our personal lives too. “
“Making your voice heard in order to address inequality, divisionism, exploitation and the oppression of poverty is not an act of charity, but one of justice. We are biblically called to speak up for those who can not speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. With God’s grace we can achieve what others claim cannot be done,” said Lizzie
The London rally formed the ‘people’s lobby’ section of the pressure which NGOs and campaigners are collaboratively putting on the most influential world leaders gathering at the G8 meetings, under the UK’s leadership, on 17-18th June in Northern Ireland. Christian Aid, OXFAM, Unicef and Save the Children are just some of those involved in the multi-faith, multinational call for action to tackle global hunger and save the lives of millions.
The Big IF day began with a service in Westminster Hall, with excellent reflections given by the General Secretaries of the Methodist and URC churches, a Congo DRC native local worker with World Vision, UK youth presidents, the Archbishop of Westminster, and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. The service leader, Ruth Valerio of Spring Harvest gave time for personal reflection of how we will turn our own gluttony into service, to bring about greater wholistic wellbeing, love and salvation.
The celebrity-packed park event saw rousing and impassioned calls to action from Bill Gates, Rowan Williams, Danny Boyle and Angelique Kidjo, bolstered by video messages from Justin Welby and David Beckham amongst others, via video messages. Speakers who really captured hearts included a group of children, two of which were from Malawi, speaking out globally through their powerful online presence.
Their stories of living with daily battles to see their families friends, and themselves, fed were bold, frank and painfully questioning. They demand more from us, more from our leaders; the basic rights to food, water, safety and education.
A visual illustration of the hunger issue was presented in an installation of flowers in a meadow, where each petal was a child’s life lost to hunger. Thousands upon thousands of petals spun in the breeze whilst children in the park on that sunny day played amongst them.
Various simple and entertainingly clever campaign films were shown which can be enjoyed and shared from the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ YouTube channel. But the one which brought the noise of a rammed central London to an eerie stillness, and tears to every single eye, depicted the reality of malnutrition in children. It emphasised the importance of the first two years of growth for a child’s development.
It showed the tiny damaged, fragile, defenseless human bodies which result from food deprivation. It brought close what is happening far away from our eyes, asking for it not to be far away from our hearts, or our sense of duty as a global citizens in an interconnected world. It demanded that we take action, that we speak, that we do not give up until this is fully tackled. It reminded us that WE have the power, WE direct our leaders – they should speak and act for us, on our behalf! So during this G8 why not add your voice to the campaign and be part of the change we wish to see.
Three simple actions you can take:
Be a cyber activist - If you haven't yet joined the Big IF campaign, add your name today. Go to: www.enoughfoodif.org.
Get your family and friends to sign up too – tell them all about it: why not share this story with them? The more people who push the message then the harder it’ll be for the G8 to ignore it.
Demonstrate virtually - get the issue trending by Tweeting @David_Cameron #BigIF #G8
Or by sending a phone text: 6777, beginning your message with BigIF
Get involved in SPEAK - check out: www.SPEAK.org.uk
Join in with Norwich SPEAK’s monthly meetings and actions: www.facebook.com/NorwichSpeak E: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRAY - Nothing is more powerful.
Pictured above is the Hyde Park rally, the Norwich SPEAK team and IF flowers.