“Feeling fired up!”, “Excited to get campaigning!”, “Believe! We can end extreme poverty!” were just some of the comments made by ONE’s new UK Youth Ambassadors after they joined us for two days to kick off the ONE Vote 2014 campaign.
Bringing together young activists from Fife to Devon, ONE’s new Youth Ambassadors will be urging MEP candidates from across the UK to put ending extreme poverty by 2030 firmly on the agenda in the run up to the European elections.
Kicking off with a fast-paced first day of training, Youth Ambassadors were treated to sessions from guest speakers including Liz Ford, Deputy Editor of Guardian Development and Joana Cruz-Schilling, Humanitarian Aid and Development Office at the European Commission.
Day two, which marked the official launch of the six month campaign, saw Youth Ambassadors out of the classroom and putting their training into action.
After some inspirational words of encouragement from BBC broadcaster and campaigner Edith Bowman, three of London’s MEP candidates arrived to be the first in the UK to sign the ONE VOTE 2014 pledge – committing to keep our promises in the fight against extreme poverty.
In a week of EU debate, which saw Europe firmly back in the spotlight, Edith then chaired a panel debate between the three MEP candidates giving the Youth Ambassadors a chance to ask a series of challenging questions about aid, development and the EU. Our Youth Ambassadors had been looking forward to giving the MEP’s a “good grilling!”.
Edith Bowman said:
“It is great to see a new generation of young activists come together to fight against extreme poverty. I’m looking forward to seeing the ONE Campaign’s Youth Ambassadors take the challenge to people in power and demand they put development on the agenda. This could transform the lives of people in the world’s poorest countries – ending extreme poverty by 2030 is in our hands.”
Still buzzing from the panel event and Edith’s words of encouragement, the young activists took their mission to the top of UK politics – No. 10 Downing Street. The Youth Ambassadors we treated to a private tour of the building, and taking a seat at the specially made Lough Erne G8 table as well as snapping the ultimate ‘selfie’ photo in front of the No.10 door.
The tour was followed by a surprise visit to the Department for International Development to meet Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Lynne Featherstone who answered questions and congratulated the Youth Ambassadors on their campaigning work, leading the fight against extreme poverty.
Lynne Featherstone said:
“I was encouraged to meet such dedicated young activists fighting to reduce extreme poverty. I am particularly pleased they are focusing on some of my priority areas such as health, access to energy and governance. I’m sure in the future international development will benefit from their exceptional talents”
Diane Sheard, UK Director at ONE, added:
“If enough MEP candidates pledge to fight for smart development assistance and support poor countries, there is a real chance of ending extreme poverty by 2030. Politics aside, reaching this target should be one thing we can all agree on. These young Ambassadors are the next generation of leaders in development; this is real grassroots activism in action.”
The ONE VOTE 2014 campaign doesn’t stop with the Youth Ambassadors. We need every ONE member across Europe to help get the message out, so start right now by signing the petition.