Emily Rose Hockenhull from the Central London group discusses her experience meeting with decision makers on the Advocacy Day of  RESULTS National Conference 2014.

Following the RESULTS UK conference on Saturday, and the advocacy and media training on Sunday, myself and the other campaigners were ready to lobby.

Bnda-M8IgAA1njT.jpg large

The advocacy group that I’d been put in (The A-team!) was set to go to DFID in the morning to talk to different teams about their work, and then to meet with MPs in the afternoon in Portcullis House (great views out of the window). The whole idea was to lobby for the changes that we want to see; a replenishment pledge made for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the GAVI alliance, to ask about the UK’s role in aid to reduce undernutrition and its progress since the nutrition for growth pledge last year and for the issue of TB to be championed.

On Sunday night, with my questions ran through, an alarm set and labelled, ‘parliament’ (Yes, I am that cool), I was all set for the early start. Monday morning came and all the advocates met at the office, the RESULTS UK staff really knew how to look after us and supplied us with pastries and coffee whilst running through last minute details.

It was time to leave, we squeezed on to the rush hour bus, and started the journey to Whitehall. As we jumped off for DFID’s offices, it appeared that 3 of our fellow campaigners were off for a tour of London, first stop…Trafalgar Square.

With all campaigners regrouped, security checks complete and the meeting room located, we were set to go and lobby. For someone such as myself, stepping into DFID’s offices was a dream come true, although obviously, I was very nonchalant about it all.

The first meeting we had was with the Global Funds team, this was the feedback we received from them, ‘It was great to meet the grassroots, they asked challenging questions which addressed the big issues and we really appreciated the time they committed to come and see us.’ This was great feedback to hear and shows us that grassroots campaigning really does make a difference.

We also had meetings with the DFID education policy team and the DFID nutrition team. Our experience at DFID was really positive, all of the individuals we met with were welcoming, interested and above all, knowledgeable.
Following lunch in the pub (campaigning is hard work!), we wandered down through sunny Westminster. As we passed the entrance to Downing Street, a familiar face was exiting the gates, celebrity spot of the day, Esther Rantzen!
With that excitement over, we made our way to Portcullis House and through security. I got searched three times, I really hope I don’t look that suspicious.

Our first meeting of the afternoon was with Michael Connarty MP and Mark Pawsey MP, they are both return delegates from a RESULTS UK trip to Cambodia, where they saw the work of TB REACH, GAVI alliance funding and the GPE. Because of this, they were both really passionate about the work that RESULTS does and agreed to continue to champion TB REACH, GAVI and the GPE.

The final meeting was with David Blunkett. For me, this was a real highlight of the day, even though his busy schedule and being called to vote meant the meeting was only 20 minutes long. I love the way he is passionate about development, and in particular, education for all, but at the same time, he is really straight talking. In response to my question asking for his views on what should replace the MDG 2 (universal primary education) in the Post-2015 development framework, as well as suggesting that we need tangible results to measure he also spoke about disability, he replied, ‘Well, let’s put it simply, if you’re a girl, you’re disadvantaged, and if you’ve got a disability, then you’re stuffed’. And with that (& a quick photo), him and Cosby the dog, were gone.

This was my first time lobbying in parliament with RESULTS, I had such a wonderful time that I’m still buzzing now! It was so great to meet so many different people, from different places and different backgrounds, who all want to see the same changes made in the world. It was amazing to see the difference that grassroots campaigning can make, and has given me such motivation to continue championing for change, thanks RESULTS!