On Saturday 16th August, Millennium Square was taken over by rickshaws. Members of the public were invited to ride with volunteers from Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and Restless Development. The volunteers’ stories help disprove the myth that international development isn’t working and that ‘nothing ever changes’.
Even the Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr. Faruk Choudhury, and Bristol MPs Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East, Labour) and Stephen Williams (Bristol West, Lib Dem) took to the pedals of a traditional rickshaw. They also heard volunteers’ experiences of positive change and why international development needs public support.
Mike Fox, a town planner from Bristol who volunteered with VSO working on urban design in Zambia, shared his experience with Kerry McCarthy MP who also volunteered with VSO in Uganda in 2007. Mike says,
“It really is possible to challenge the myth that international development isn’t working. I spent two years with VSO in Zambia and saw for myself how the work volunteers are doing to improve the planning system there is having a real impact. Today was an opportunity to challenge people’s preconceptions. I think we did that.”
The rickshaws and rickshaw drivers’ shirts had facts about global poverty printed on the back, and distributed to members of the public, including:
- 77% of the UK public think that our efforts to tackle global poverty over the last decade have made little or no difference. However extreme poverty has been halved since 1990, a girl born in Sub-Saharan Africa will live on average 16 years longer than in 1960, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by almost a third since 2005 and many countries who used to depend on aid now receive hardly any and even donate to other countries.
- Over half (59%) of people in the South West think that the UK spends more on overseas aid than we actually do: 0.7% of Gross National Income. Asked how much we should spend, almost three-quarters (74%) suggested more than 0.7%.
Contact Ruby Wright from the VSO press office on 020 8780 7640 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Journalists with urgent out-of-hours queries, call 07500 918 478.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Annual Letter 2014 http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/ :
- The number of people who live on less than £1 a day has halved since 1990
- If you were born a girl in Sub-Saharan Africa today, you will live 16 years longer than you would have in 1960.
- Many countries who used to receive aid now no longer need it and actually donate to other countries (not very long ago people thought countries like Botswana, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam would always need aid, but now they can stand on their own)
South West opinion poll on overseas aid from ONE Campaign 2012: http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/one-campaign-overseas-aid-poll/
77% of public think little or no difference has been made – Intermedia research: http://www.intermedia.org/wp-content/uploads/FinalReport.pdf
Since 2005, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by almost a third. UNAIDS: http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/globalreport2013/factsheet/