Malin is a student at Leeds Uni and one of our new SSAC Steering Committee members. Find out about her experience of the Why Stop Now? campaign’s parliamentary events!
After a very spontaneous and last-minute decision, I found myself on a train from Leeds to London to join the Stop AIDS parliamentary events on Wednesday 28 November. I got down to London on Tuesday night and spent the night at a friend’s place so I missed the first two hours of giving out cupcakes and trying to get MPs to come for the photo opportunity. Wasn’t too upset that I missed hours of standing out in the cold – credit to those who did though! And as we found out later, it really paid off! So I met up with everyone around 9.30 to get in to Portcullis House for the MP lobby and photo op. It all started off with some drama in the queue to get in, some people pushed in in front of us, and in true British style – this was not accepted. I quote: “without queues, there would be complete anarchy!”
We eventually got in (after having some embarrassingly bad photos taken) and the event was a great success! About 50 MPs came along to chat and have their photo taken with some ‘keen student activists’. I did find it a bit intimidating to lobby the MPs at first, but as it turns out: they are just normal people, and usually really nice too!
After some lunch, rest and work at the Restless office we headed back to parliament for the Why Stop Now APPG meeting. No drama in the queue this time, although we were provided with some interesting observations regarding the size of Oliver Cromwell’s heel. Once inside, we made our way through the ancient looking corridors to the meeting room, where we – like the true student activists we are – gave up our places to more important people and sat on the floor. It was a really interesting meeting, with some really good speakers and it was good to hear some different perspectives on the UK’s role in the global and national HIV response. Even though we didn’t get Justine Greening to commit to a blueprint, it was still a good discussion that brought up some of the main issues. I found the whole day really exciting and interesting, it is nice to see another side of what the Stop AIDS campaign does. It is not just all about the smaller campaigns we do in our individual societies, but it all feeds back into a higher level where it can potentially (hopefully!) lead to a policy change. We finished off a great day with some drinks (and wedges, thanks Kate!) in the pub before I had to get my train back to Leeds!
The Youthpolicy.org/development is running a #WhyStopNow? week – check out www.youthpolicy.org for updates, comments, case-studies and resources!