Over the next month, members of Tearfund’s Government Relations team will be attending the Liberal Democrat, Labour, Conservative and Scottish National Party (SNP) party conferences.
Party conferences happen every year and are a way for the main political parties to meet with their members and share their vision for the following year. They feature a mix of speeches, events and debates.
Read on to find out why we’re there, what we’re going to be getting up to and how you can get involved.
Why are we going to the party conferences?
Tearfund engages with MPs because we want to see lasting change. This happens by not only working with those living in poverty, but by changing the circumstances, laws and systems that are keeping them trapped. Working with decision-makers who have the power to make laws is fundamental to alleviating poverty.
Party conferences are an opportunity for us to engage with party members, Peers and MPs, discussing Tearfund's work with them and building relationships that we can continue when they are back in Parliament.
Working with UK politicians, we can encourage the government to use its role as a leader on issues such as climate change. The government can then use its influence at global summits, international bodies and with other countries to push for vital changes.
The UK government has a commitment to spend 0.07 per cent of its spending each year on international aid. Tearfund has been able to work with the Department for International Development (DFID) on how some of that money gets spent.
You may remember that, through DFID, the UK government match funded our recent campaign to tackle plastic pollution across the world. DFID agreed to double all donations up to £3 million, raising an incredible £8,884,768.
DFID listen to Tearfund because of our experience and expertise, and the party conferences help us cultivate our relationships with MPs who work on this area. This can lead to further match funding opportunities.
What are we focusing on this year?
Tearfund will be taking our Rubbish Campaign to the party conferences this year. The campaign highlights the devastating link between plastics and poverty. We will be discussing with MPs the role in which the government and multinational companies can play in breaking this link.
Plastic pollution is destroying our natural environment and harming the world’s poorest people. Every 30 seconds someone dies because of diseases caused by plastic pollution and other waste. Plastic production is on an upward curve and, unless urgent action is taken, global plastic production will double over the next ten to fifteen years.
Here's how we're highlighting this rubbish issue at the party conferences:
- Liberal Democrat Party Conference, 14–17 September: Tearfund will be co-hosting a prayer breakfast with the Liberal Democrat Christian Fellowship on the 16 September.
- Labour Party Conference, 21–25 September: Tearfund will be part of two panel events. One looking at Faith in Aid and the other looking at fighting for social and environmental justice abroad. These will take place on 23 and 24 September.
- Conservative Party Conference, 29 September – 2 October: Tearfund will be hosting an event on the Rubbish Campaign on 1 October. We will also be a guest panelist at the Conservative Environment Network debate on women in climate change.
- SNP Party Conference, 13–15 October: Tearfund will be co-hosting an event, date to be confirmed.
- Lift up our Government Relations team, who have been planning these events and will be going to the party conferences. Pray for the logistics of the events and for energy, strength and wisdom for our team.
- Pray for good attendance at our events by MPs, their staff and decision-makers, and that they would be spurred to take action to tackle plastic pollution.
- Pray for our relationship with MPs, that we would be able to deepen our current relationships and build new ones too.
- Plastic pollution is hitting people in poverty the hardest. Pray for people who are forced to live among mountains of rubbish. Pray especially for their health and for a change in laws to reduce single-use plastic and alleviate their suffering.
You can also tell your MP that Tearfund will be at their party conference this year. You can email them and invite them to one of our events. If you do not know who your local MP is, it’s easy to find out. If your MP wants to know more, you can tell them to email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.