Days before the World Trade Organisation summit in Hong Kong, and on the eve of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty’s International White Band Day III, 60 young people and youth leaders from YMCAs across the UK and Ireland gathered at Y Care International’s annual conference to discuss how to take the Make Poverty History campaign forward into 2006.
A Capoeira workshop explored another type of self-expression, through a combination of dance and non-violent combat.The diversity of ideas expressed throughout the day was partly due to the diversity of the people present. Jane Turner from the Everyday Theatre Company, who led a drama workshop, said: “Quite often when you do workshops it’s the same kind of people but the great thing about working with Y Care International is that it crosses age groups and backgrounds. It’s national and international”.
Towards the end of the day the conference split into regional action groups – the aim: to come up with a pledge of action for the coming year. Once again there was a remarkable range of ideas: regional partnerships, letter writing marathons and petitions; from asking shops about the origins of their products, to asking YMCA board members about their investment policies.The entire day was a powerful antidote to the jaded assumption that all young people are apathetic about politics. For confirmation you only had to listen to a young representative from the north of England: “We want to speak to Tony Blair face to face. We don’t know how easy it is but we’re going to try”.