Campaign Champions Beth & Tilly at the East Africa Hunger Lobby

“If the youth can understand their voices’ power before getting to adulthood, I believe we can make a difference” ~Tilly, 13, Campaign Champion 2023. 

In February, campaign Champions Beth and Tilly, from Folkestone school for girls attended the East Africa Hunger Lobby, organised by several charities including one of our coalition members, Oxfam. Right now, more than 28 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya are facing extreme hunger due to factors beyond their control- the climate crisis, conflict and the global cost of living crisis. Beth and Tilly joined hundreds of other campaigners who were calling on UK MPs for urgent action on the food crisis – joining together to say “East Africa Cannot Wait”

Hear about Tilly and Beth’s experiences of the day, and why they think campaigning on this issue cannot wait.

Campaign Champions Tilly and Beth, with Hilalry Benn MP at the East Africa Hunger Lobby

Campaign Champions Tilly and Beth, with Hilary Benn MP at the East Africa Hunger Lobby

“The goal of the event was to ultimately ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to radically increase the money being spend on the humanitarian crisis happening in the East of Africa. We went about this through meeting some 100 other campaigners for charities like One and Oxfam in the morning, where we planned for the main events to come in the afternoon. This included speeches from ministers and members of the shadow cabinet, including Preet Gill, Hillary Benn, and Andrew Mitchell. Most campaigners met their local MPs in order to ask them to write to the Chancellor, to add more money in the Spring Budget. We met our own MP from Canterbury, Rosie Duffield, who was absolutely overcome with support; a reception we were thrilled to receive.

Why was this event important?

This event was vital, as the predicted and upcoming famine is entirely preventable.  There has been a significant decline in UK funding, with a reduction from 156 million in 2022, to 143 million in 2023. As a country which has the money to prevent another famine without affecting other areas of the budget, we have a moral responsibility to live up to currently unfulfilled promises the government has made.

This crisis does not only cause starvation, but other areas like education are affected. Last year, Ethiopia’s child marriage rate has increased 117%. Children are 3x more likely to drop out of school in the Horn of Africa due to hunger to try and earn a living. Such intimidating statistics should not just be viewed as numbers, but we must remember the real people affected by the horrors of the situation, caused by wars, cost of living, and the climate crisis to name but three factors.

What did you learn?

We really enjoyed the whole day and  learnt so many things along the way. We met lots of MPs which helped shape more of our opinions throughout the day. We learnt a lot more about the East Africa hunger crisis, as we didn’t know much beforehand. We also learnt how to speak with MPs and that was another one of the highlights of the day. Speaking with lots of MPs and hearing lots of important MPs speak helped me to understand the world of Parliament and how government figures think. 

Tilly talking to Rosie Duffield MP about the East Africa hunger Crisis

Tilly meets her local MP, Rosie Duffield

Youth voice is important

Youth voice is important because children are one day going to be MPs and the decision-making leaders of the future. If the youth can understand their voices’ power before getting to adulthood, I believe we can make a difference. 

Tillie : “Following the event, I felt rather accomplished, taking great advantage of being surrounded by likeminded people and made new friends, understanding new information and gaining an understanding of the future events I will attend like this. I had the pleasure to meet several shadow cabinet members, including David Lammy and Preet Gill. My exchange with the Shadow International Development minister was a particularly empowering experience, meeting such an accomplished and passionate woman who had become so successful in an industry I aim to reach such heights in”.

Beth “After the whole day I felt empowered and ready to do more with Send My Friend to School. There are many things that I learnt that day and I will never forget them. throughout the whole day, I was so excited, and I am so glad that I have been able to have this experience!”


Find out more about the Oxfam campaign here