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Jesuit hunger striking against foreign aid cuts

  • 1 June 2021

Fr Denis Blackledge SJ is going on hunger strike for 24 hours against the UK governments plan to cut the foreign aid budget

Fr Denis Blackledge SJ, parish priest of St Francis Xavier’s church in Everton, Liverpool, is hunger striking for 24 hours on 3 June against the UK government’s decision to cut the foreign aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of the total national income. This is a reduction of around £4bn.

The 78-year-old confesses he has never protested about anything in his life before now. He stresses that cutting the budget will result in “4.5 million children won’t be to receive a decent education” and, “3.6 million people will be left without sustainable access to water.”

We are supporting Denis. You can too. Send an email to your MP today or join him in fasting.

Email your MP using the letter below.
You can find your MP’s email address here.

Dear (MP NAME)

I am writing to you because I am concerned about the government’s decision to cut the UK aid commitment from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%.

I am deeply worried that the government has made this decision in a time where UK aid is essential to tackling today’s global problems, from COVID-19 to climate change. The UK makes a real difference to the world through our aid budget and cutting it would damage our ability to respond to where the need is greatest.

I believe this to be the wrong decision and I am asking for your help to prevent this for these reasons:

1) In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are witnessing an unprecedented world humanitarian crisis regarding vaccination equity.

2) This year the UK Government is hosting the G7 and COP26; this is an opportunity for us to lead the international response to the global challenges we face but cutting our aid budget would damage our global standing.

3) Understandably the aid budget has reduced this year as the economy has shrunk. This is how the 0.7 commitment is designed. What is being proposed here is going beyond that, which neither the law nor the Conservative manifesto allows for.

4) It less than a year since the Conservatives made a manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI as aid so it is important, they keep this promise.

On 3 June, Fr Denis Blackledge SJ, a parish priest from Liverpool will go on a hunger strike to protest this disgraceful move from the government. I am standing in solidarity with Fr Denis, and I ask that you do too by:

-Writing to the Prime Minister calling on him to protect the 0.7 per cent aid target.

-Voting against any legislation that will reduce or revoke the 0.7 per cent aid target.

-Speaking out against these cuts in Parliament.

Ahead of the UK hosting the G7 and COP26, cutting our aid budget is the wrong action to take.

I look forward to hearing from you.

(Your name)


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