On 8th February, the Rumble Museum at Cheney organised its second annual Global Awareness Day. This year human rights and poverty was a particular focus, with organisations representing some of the world’s most vulnerable people and communities attending to run stalls and workshops. The event was opened by Amnesty International UK’s Director Kate Allen.
Kate arrived in time to have lunch with the school’s Amnesty Group, who were able to discuss their meetings, and put questions to her. This was then followed by a talk delivered to the whole sixth form, where Kate outlined the letter to the Observer by Peter Benenson about two Portuguese students who had been imprisoned by their government for toasting freedom. She explained how, today, the organisation had grown to encompass much of the world, with countries across the world having their own Amnesty International organisations. She also talked about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, consisting of 30 fundamental freedoms and rights to which all human beings are entitled.
She spoke of the work Amnesty does, lobbying governments who are contravening these rights in various ways, pointing out that the work is often challenging and even dangerous: she gave examples such as Turkey, where Amnesty International staff have been imprisoned and accused of terrorism. She spoke on the International Arms Trade Treaty, how it came to be agreed, and how Amnesty puts pressure on governments who are not honouring this Treaty. She also spoke of the Refugees campaign that Amnesty are currently working on, lobbying in order that children over the age of 18 are able to join their families. She also encouraged young people to be involved, citing the Amnesty goal that a third of their organisation might be made up of young supporters. After her talk, she took a number of thoughtful questions from the audience, such what else Amnesty could be doing about arms trade, and if they receive government funding. After her talk, Kate took some time to talk individually to members of the audience.
Kate’s talk was informative, thought-provoking and often very moving, and we are very grateful to her for all her time and energy. After this opening talk, three organisations opened stalls for the sixth formers, as well as three classes of Year Eleven RE students who came during Period Four to speak to the stallrunners and take part in the activities. Oxfam, Christian Aid and the Oxford University Amnesty Group, all ran stalls, and spent over an hour informing students about their work in a variety of engaging ways. Oxfam’s stall focused on arms trade, while Amnesty and Christian Aid both explored the plight of refugees amongst other things. The stalls were all very much enjoyed by all.
After school, the event continued with two stimulating workshops run by Oxfam and Christian Aid. Year Eleven and Year Thirteen students took part, exploring the impact of climate change on populations, and ‘Behind the Barcode’m campaigns looking at the exploitation in food supply chains.
We are hugely grateful to all our stallrunners and workshop runners for such engaging, educational and inspirational stalls and workshops, and to Kate for her stimulating opening talk.