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Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 08:33 GMT
Campaign bids to end poverty trap
Make Poverty History slogan
Two-hundred groups back the Make Poverty History campaign
It has been to Downing Street, caught the imagination of Nelson Mandela and attracted a plethora of celebrities - so just what is Making Poverty History?

In just six months the campaign has grabbed numerous headlines and can count on the support of pop stars, clergy and statesmen alike.

So what are the coalition's AIMS? How is it FUNDED? How are the CHURCHES involved? What has it got to do with the POLITICIANS? Why does it attract the CELEBRITIES?

And just what are those WRISTBANDS?


Aids orphan

The coalition says world poverty is sustained not by nature but by factors such as global trade, debt and insufficient and ineffective aid which are exacerbated by "inappropriate" economic policies.

It hopes the UK presidencies of the G8 and the European Union along with the 20th anniversary of Live Aid will galvanise the Western world into action.

It says a "sea change" to compel developed countries to fulfil their "obligations" could see an end to poverty. It says policy change in three areas - trade, debt and aid - would stop the suffering.

It calls for actions such as ending export subsidies, dropping unpayable debt and giving US$50 billion (26.6 billion) more in aid.



The campaign is supported by more than 200 charities, campaigns, trade unions, faith groups and celebrities. These range from Oxfam to the Church of England to the Transport and General Workers' Union, which have all contributed to the cause.

Dr Charles Reed of the Church of England said: "It is not a hierarchal organisation. All of the organisations feel a part-ownership in the campaign and for it to be a success they must contribute to the running costs.

"They have all put their hands in their pockets to make this happen."


Dawn French as the Vicar of Dibley

A number of churches and religious groups are involved in the campaign - recently the Vicar of Dibley, comic Dawn French, led hundreds of women clergy to Number 10 to sing hymns and take their poverty message to the heart of government.

The Church of England, Methodist and Baptist churches have all signed up, while groups such as the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod), Muslim Aid, and the Jewish Council for Racial Equality are all involved.

Dr Charles Reed, adviser on international policy to the Church of England, said as churches worked in every part of the country they had a network in which to put the "clear" message of Make Poverty History across.

And, he said, they were part of a wider church working in areas around the world directly affected by poverty.


Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown

It is not often campaigners find themselves meeting a smiling prime minister on the doorstep as they deliver a petition to Downing Street, or find the chancellor publicly praising their message - but somehow Make Poverty History has found powerful ears all-too ready to listen.

Gordon Brown might be convinced "a new deal for all developing countries that will address the underlying causes of their poverty, their illiteracy and their disease" is the way forward - as he recently told the United Nations Development Programme - but that is not to say they agree whole-heartedly.

Some in Make Poverty History express scepticism at Mr Brown's recently announced "Marshall Plan for Africa".

Unlike the Chancellor they want debt relief without conditions.

However he has been sporting the organisation's wristband and was backed by singer Bono at the World Economic Forum in Davos.



"We can make extreme poverty history, I really believe that," said U2 frontman Bono.

"The kind of stupid poverty where kids are dying for the lack of an immunisation that costs 20 cents, or for lack of food in a world of plenty. Don't we want to be the generation that says no to that?" The MPH campaign has attracted the likes of Notting Hill writer Richard Curtis, comic Dawn French, actor Rhys Ifans and R&B star Jamelia.

Richard Curtis is devoting a year to the campaign and it is backed by Comic Relief.

There is a real feeling it is make-or-break time to tackle poverty, said a spokesman, so many celebrities feel if they can use their influence to change things then so much the better.

Fran Healy of Travis said: "No-one can be oblivious or ignorant to the plight of the poor, nor to the responsibility our governments have as architects of their poverty."

Band Aid founder Bob Geldof is also using his experience of charity drives to spearhead the campaign.

"The reality is that only politics created this dilemma and only politics can resolve it," he said.


Graham Norton

The White Band - which is worn around the wrist, as a hairband or around the arm - is meant to signify support for the campaign, numerous celebrities have been snapped wearing the items.

They come in cotton or silicon, cost 1 and can be bought direct from Make Poverty History and its supporters or in Oxfam shops.

In full: Mandela's poverty speech
03 Feb 05 |  UK Politics
Mandela steals the show in London
03 Feb 05 |  UK Politics
The Vicar of Albion meets his match
13 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
Brown's plan to end world poverty
28 Dec 04 |  UK Politics

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