Government is right to fund charity campaigning, ActionAid says

Howard Lake | 8 April 2009 | News

news hook: Liam Byrne MP announces £750,000 grants for charity campaigns
ActionAid’s head of policy and campaigns, Belinda Calaguas, today defended the right of charities to campaign, and welcomed the Government’s £750,000 plan to support ‘innovative political campaigning’ by smaller charities.
She said: “Saying that charities should not campaign is like saying that fire brigades should stick to fighting fires and stop doing fire prevention work.
“Like most anti-poverty charities, ActionAid decided years ago that to fight poverty, we had to fight the causes of poverty. So we campaign for things like sustainable food production, which can help to end hunger. We campaign for tax transparency, which helps to prevent multinational companies spiriting money away out of poor countries. We campaign against things which perpetuate poverty, like the oppression of women.”
Ms Calaguas rebutted the charge that charities are getting ‘too political’.
“We don’t think ‘political’ is a dirty word. When we run a campaign we ask our supporters to lobby their MPs, join non-violent events like last month’s Put People First rally, and generally be active citizens. We particularly want young supporters, who may be disillusioned with politics, to realise that there are things they can do which will make a difference.
“Charity law allows us to campaign on our issue – poverty. And when you look at the causes of poverty in the world, you have to get involved in health, education, hunger and food production, and women’s rights. But ActionAid has no interest in campaigning on issues unrelated to poverty. We do not support any political party.”
Though ActionAid is unlikely to benefit from the newly announced grants, it supports their aim. “These grants are to help vulnerable groups to get their voices heard. That is something ActionAid believes in. It is at the heart of our work in more than 40 countries,” Ms Calaguas said.
For interviews with Belinda Calaguas or for further information, contact Tony Durham on 020 7561 7636 or 07872 378251.
Note to editors
Belinda Calaguas has many years experience of campaigning in UK and international charities. Before joining ActionAid she worked for WaterAid; for three years before that, she was coordinator of the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
ActionAid works to end global poverty and injustice

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