My first lobby, my first event working with CAFOD, my first time in Parliament and my first time talking to a stranger on the tube!
~ by Madeline Page
On June 17th I headed down to Parliament for the For the Love of… Campaign. It was the first lobby that I had been to and only my third day working with CAFOD so I had no idea what to expect. However, there was a fantastic buzz from the moment we got on the tube. A woman heading down to the lobby on the tube spotted our CAFOD t-shirts and asked if we were making our way to Westminster. At another stop a man with a fantastic sign that said “Caution! No Climate Change Policies Ahead” got on and soon the carriage was filled with lots of people going to lobby their MPs.
At first I found the idea of lobbying MPs quite daunting, especially as not only was I going to speak to MPs, but was lucky enough to meet Lord Bourne from Aberystwyth and Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Chatting with him was very positive and he seemed to be very on board with what everyone was saying. The meeting was much more casual than I first envisioned. Despite going through what was essentially airport security and then various ‘check points’ within Parliament in order to finally get to the meeting room, we all just sat in a circle of chairs discussing our thoughts, concerns and ideas. Throughout the day I heard similar stories from other constituents that spoke to their MPs who said that they got taken out for lunch or discussed their concerns over coffee with their MP. I quickly realised that ‘lobbying’ really just meant a causal, personal conversation with our MPs who readily listened.
The day was very busy and I had the opportunity to speak to lots of interesting people meaning I didn’t have ‘lunch’ until 4! I helped Kieran with interviews and getting lots of footage of the day including precariously balancing the camera on one of the pillars inside Parliament in order to get a great time lapse video of us walking through the beautiful building. (The video will be ready shortly!)
At the end of the day, everyone gathered together to listen to various talks and music. It wasn’t until this happened that I truly got a sense of how many people attended because during the day, everyone was spread out across Westminster chatting with their MPs.
I have always been interested in ways that I can do my part to protect the environment but it wasn’t until I started preparing for the climate change lobby that I really focussed on the effect that climate change has on the poor. I didn’t know that climate change was the single biggest threat to reducing poverty and that it was due to our interference with the earth that there has been an increase in droughts, cyclones and typhoons. When people mention climate change it is so easy to just think of melting glaciers and icecaps that don’t seem to effect people. However, hearing various speakers at the lobby really made the effect it has on people world wide come alive. Now, it isn’t just our brothers and sisters across the world that are effected but also ones here at home in the UK. One lady spoke about how her village suffered from 6 foot flooding last year, in a town where many people live in bungalows, and the obvious devastation that this caused. It really showed that we need to do something now more than ever.
Being part of the lobby with such a huge number of people at Parliament was a fantastic experience. Many people had the opportunity to tell our new MPs that we all care about different things, from various sports and hobbies to the way we live our lives, that are all affected by climate change and we want them to take action. It was lovely seeing so many MPs taking the time to meet with their constituents and also to see that over 9,000 people had travelled all the way to London from across the UK to make their voice heard.
Also, as Catholic, it was fantastic that the following day Laudato Si’, our Holy Father’s encyclical, was published. In it, he speaks up for the protection of the environment and the people who are already being affected by climate change. He makes it clear it is everyone’s responsibility and we all need to think about what we can change in our lives so that we can protect those things we love the most from climate change.
I look forward to the coming months to see how our leaders heed to this.