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What’s it like to lobby governments in the US and UK?


This year our campaigners are fighting to raise awareness about the power of a tiny but mighty health intervention: vaccines.

Vaccines are a critical and cost-effective intervention that have the ability to promote good health, boost economies, and reduce poverty. That’s why it’s essential that we fully replenish Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — a global organisation fighting to make sure everyone, everywhere has access to life-saving vaccines — this coming June.

This February, our teams in the United Kingdom and the United States took their demands for good global health straight to the people in power. Dozens of ONE activists gathered in London to meet with their MPs and advocate for the power of Gavi. In Washington, D.C., activists from across the country came together to ask their senators and representatives for a strong US government pledge.

Our UK campaigner, Jasmine Wakeel, pulled double duty prepping our activists and attending lobby meetings with MPs in London, then leading a group of activists from Idaho in Washington.

We’ve asked her four questions about her experiences lobbying in the UK and the US. Here’s what she had to say:

1. What was the best thing about working with volunteers in the US and the UK?

In the UK, getting to know our new cohort of volunteers — who are one of our most diverse groups ever — and seeing the day come together as last minute meetings were confirmed was really exciting. It was also brilliant to bring together 50 ONE Activists and also have activists from other organisations like Save the Children UK, Unicef UK, RESULTS UK and Global Citizen join us too. It was incredible to show a united front on our ask for the Gavi replenishment to MPs, staff from the Department for International Development (DFID) and ministers.

Jasmine Wakeel, ONE UK Campaign Coordinator (second from the right) with ONE Activists and US Senator in DC.

Over in the US, learning about the different volunteers we have and how they interact in their individual states was really interesting. Our US volunteers come to ONE as students, faith leaders, and district leaders. Everyone I asked said Idaho has the nicest people, and they weren’t wrong! I couldn’t have been paired up with a better bunch. The levels of experience in the group varied vastly, with one volunteer being completely new and another on their sixth summit. Whatever their level of experience, they were all a pleasure to lead.

2. Did you take any lessons from your experience campaigning in the UK to the US lobby day?

Yes! When working with new MPs, it’s crucial to go back to basics on who ONE is, our campaigns and, most importantly, why our activists care about the campaigns ONE works on. Your MP can start caring about an issue for no other reason than because you do. Whether it was family experiences of polio or having grandkids and not being able to imagine them missing their vaccinations, helping our volunteers zero in on their personal reasons for supporting Gavi can make all the difference when they’re in the room with their representative asking for their support, especially with a fair few new representatives.

3. Have you seen any results from ONE’s lobbying efforts yet?

In both countries we showed politicians that people from the areas they represent care about children in some of the world’s poorest countries getting vaccinations. These vaccinations mean they can go to school and live to their full potential. We’ll have to wait until each country pledges but there are encouraging signs: In the UK lots of MPs came to support our day and our message and in the US, President Trump requested full funding for Gavi in his recent budget announcement.

4. Any surprises?

A few including, bumping into Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (or AOC, as she’s often called) as she left her office!

Using vaccines to fight poverty

One key way to stem poverty is to invest in key interventions that will enable people to live healthy and productive lives. Studies report that vaccines administered between 2016 and 2030 will help prevent 24 million people in 41 of the world’s poorest countries from falling into poverty. Learn more about the relationship between good global health and the fight to end poverty here.

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