CAFOD Hungry for Change campaigners petition Downing Street

Independent Catholic News

The group outside Parliament
The group outside Parliament

A group of CAFOD campaigners from around the UK visited Downing Street a year ahead of the next general election, with demands from over 60,000 CAFOD supporters asking David Cameron to take action to end world hunger.

The group, which included Molly-Kate McCaffrey, Elizabeth Biggins and Angela Powell from Sheffield Hallam, Rita Belletty from Portsmouth and Stephen Bone from Westminster, hand delivered the requests to Number 10 on Wednesday 7 May, in an event that marked the end of the aid agency’s latest hunger campaign Hungry for change. Throughout the campaign, CAFOD has been calling for more targeted aid for small-scale farmers and greater checks on the power of global food companies.

CAFOD campaigner Rita Belletty from Portsmouth diocese said: “To be here today with over 60,000 calls for action on world hunger is amazing. Throughout CAFOD’s campaign I organised many card signings in my parish because this is an issue that matters deeply to me and thousands of others like me. Together we’ve called out for justice in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world who go to bed hungry every night and by joining together, we are so much more powerful. I know there’s still more to do in tackling hunger, but seeing the changes we’ve helped bring about so far is truly inspiring.”

Hungry for change saw some great results. During the campaign, CAFOD become a founding member of the Enough Food for Everyone… IF coalition, joining with 200 other organisations to urge David Cameron to use last year’s G8 summit to create positive, long-lasting changes to the failing global food system. Thousands of Catholic campaigners attended the Big IF rally in Hyde Park in June, encouraging rich country leaders who met nearby to secure £2.7 billion to tackle malnutrition between now and 2020.

In addition, last year saw the UK become the first G8 nation to commit to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on international development aid – an announcement that had been 43 years in the making. Archbishop Desmond Tutu paid tribute to CAFOD campaigners for their “tireless work” and “steadfast refusal to accept the status quo” on this issue.

Hungry for change – which had been calling for greater transparency around global food companies, including their supply chains – also saw a hard won reform of EU law agreed earlier this year, which will require large publicly-listed companies in all EU countries to publish information on significant risks to and impacts on the environment and human rights, as well as measures they take to tackle corruption.

CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns, Sophie Dodgeon, said: “Our Hungry for change campaign has drawn to a close, but this is not the end of our work to try and end world hunger. The important progress made so far to tackle the food crisis is being threatened by the impacts of climate change. So tackling this issue is now our top priority.

“The support of the Catholic community throughout Hungry for change has been vital to its success. We hope that as many people as possible will unite with us again as we launch our new campaign in September to call for decisive action on climate change. The vulnerable people we work with around the world tell us that unless we tackle climate change, its impacts have the potential to undo all the other great work that has been done to tackle poverty and alleviate hunger. But we simply cannot take on this challenge without our supporters’ help.”