What a fantastic day we had yesterday at the Big IF rally – over 45,000 people gathered in Hyde Park to demand world leaders to act on global hunger!
Among those, we had over 130 people from our diocese, many of whom filled our three coaches coming from Southampton, Winchester, Farnborough, Portsmouth, Havant, Petersfield, Newbury, Reading and Maidenhead! It was an early start for some but well worth the effort.
During our coach journeys, we began preparing for the day by signing special postcards to the Prime Minister and wearing our IF wristbands and CAFOD T shirts.
The day officially started with the Ecumenical Service at Westminster Central Hall – which was fantastic and attended by over 3,500 people from all over the country, including those that filled the overflow rooms! During the service, Archbishop Vincent Nichols in his address reminded us that we all share responsibility for the millions who go hungry every day and that the suffering of our brothers and sisters is also ours. You can download the full text of his speech here.
After the service, we made our way to Hyde Park for our Walk of Witness. With our colourful banners and fishes-and-loaves “hats”, we certainly attracted the attention of the many passer-bys and tourists on the busy streets of Central London. And though our great number made the walking quite slow, it was certainly a great way to give witness and make people curious about the IF campaign!
We made it to Hyde Park shortly after 2pm, where we were spoilt for choice for activities to do! Children certainly enjoyed the face-painting stall, while the “campaign space” and the “IF Talk Space” provided opportunities to learn more about the issues of the campaign and discuss them.
The biggest part of the day started at 3.30pm, when Myleene Klass and Gethin Jones entered the stage to open the official rally! The array of inspirational speakers and acts was truly impressive, ranging from Danny Boyle to Bill Gates to Rowan Williams and many more. You can read more about the day and see many more photos and videos from the event on the CAFOD website.
On the other side of the Serpentine, the huge Big IF installation, made up of 2 million “spinning flowers”, provided a very impressive sight and stood as a powerful reminder to world leaders of the over 2 million children who die of hunger every year around the world.
At the same time as the Big IF rally was being held, Prime Minister David Cameron was hosting the special “Nutrition for Growth” summit, that brought together leading figures from business, science and civil society to discuss the issues of child nutrition and investment in agriculture. Regarding the first issue, some progress was made at the summit, as you can read in more detail in CAFOD’s analysis here.
The Big IF rally and the Hunger Summit are just the start of 10 crucial days of campaigning in the run-up to the G8 summit. There is plenty to happen in the days to come, and you can see the full schedule here and stay up-to-date on what’s going, what’s being achieved and what still needs to be tackled on the CAFOD website and the Enough Food for Everyone IF website.
Please pray for world leaders in the forthcoming weeks, that the Holy Spirit may guide them in the important decisions they have to make.
Once again, we would like to thank you all so much for coming along yesterday and we hope you will have long-lasting memories of a very special day – but most importantly, that attending the event may have renewed once again our commitment to strive for a more just world and global food system! Thanks a lot also to all those of you whom we know were unable to come along on the day but were holding us and the event in prayer – much much appreciated! Thanks everyone! 🙂