Young St Albans and Markyate activists bid to tackle world poverty

Leo Rocha

Leo Rocha - Credit: Archant

Two local youth activists have set their sights on tackling extreme poverty across the globe.

St Albans resident Siobhan Palmer and Leo Rocha, from Markyate, are youth ambassadors for the ONE campaign, which works to eradicate extreme poverty defined as living on less than £1 a day – half the cost of a morning coffee.

They made the journey to Brussels for the ONE Summit to meet international politicians with more than 100 other youth activists from Europe.

The ONE activists managed around 100 one-to-one meetings with MEPs, and held a successful Lobby Day which urged MEPs to sign a pledge to commit to tackling extreme poverty in their five year term.

Siobhan, 21, said: “We’ve spent weeks with local MEP candidates, and being able to take that material to Brussels and work inside the EU and meet with so many European counterparts was really empowering.

“Telling people they can help virtually eradicate global extreme poverty in their lifetime is a great message to be able to spread.”

Leo, 36, who was given special dispensation to join the campaign because of his age, said: “Though we still face problems here at home, we don’t have to make a choice between ‘us’ in the UK and ‘them’ in developing countries.”

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Thanks to the efforts of Siobhan and Leo and other ONE activists, two of the East of England region’s MEPs, Richard Howitt and Vicky Ford, agreed to sign the pledge.

Mr Howitt said: “It is fantastic that they are joining other young people from throughout Europe to show that British people do care about Europe and the rest of the world.”

Siobhan added: “The best thing was probably the positive responses we received at the European Parliament, with many MEPs gladly meeting with us and responding very positively to our cause.”

In April Siobhan and Lee helped launch the Youth Ambassador programme, visited No 10 Downing Street and met Lynn Featherstone, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development. They are continuing the campaign back in the UK, collecting signatures and ensuring the EU does its part to prevent people having to live on less than £1 per day.