Female clergy press Prime Minister on poverty
Around 600 vicars from across the country joined Dawn French today as a white band was tied around Nelsonís Column in Trafalgar Square and a
While the group of vicars waited outside Downing Street, proudly holding Make Poverty History banners and poignantly tying hundreds of white bands on the railings, a smaller delegation of 10 vicars representing the different denominations, actor Dawn French and writer Richard Curtis, co-founder of Comic Relief met the Prime Minister.
They reiterated the challenges on debt, trade and aid laid down earlier this year  by the Make Poverty History campaign. With Gordon Brown in Africa  addressing the same issues of poverty, the campaign hopes the UK government will use their influence internationally to make important changes at critical meetings throughout the year, including the G8 in July.
The idea was inspired by the Vicar of Dibley programme written by Richard Curtis, who said; "Geraldine would have been 20 at the time of Live Aid - and so it seemed a very apt idea for an episode of Vicar of Dibley to centre around her trying to mark the anniversary of a day which changed her world.
"I believe she'd still be totally up in arms about the horrific statistics 20 years on - one child dying every 3 seconds, unnecessarily, of the results of extreme poverty."
"MakePovertyHistory is a real life campaign that is asking the UK public to send a white band message to the government urging them to make changes around debt, trade and aid that keep poor countries poorî.
Donning their dog collars and the campaignís global symbol ñ a white band, the women met at St Martin in the Fields (Trafalgar Square) where they were welcomed by Dawn French and held prayers for the victims of the Asian Tsunami which has left more than 150,000 people dead and many millions homeless.
The Tsunami disaster in Asia has exposed the vulnerability of poor people across the world and the Make Poverty History  campaign highlights the hidden disaster of abject poverty that kills 30,000 children every day. The campaign brings together around 150 charities, unions and faith groups to challenge Tony Blair and other world leaders to deliver trade justice, debt cancellation and more and better aid for the worldís poorest countries.
Dr Mary Bradford, churches campaign manager, Christian Aid said: ìThe churches have been the backbone of virtually every major campaign against mass poverty over the last eight years or so. This visit to Downing Street was designed to show just how strongly the clergy feel that the millions of people who live in poverty every day should have a chance to improve their lives.î
ìIn the aftermath of the terrible events of Boxing Day, we have been reminded that human beings suffer, regardless of ethnic origin or religion,î Lucy Winkett, Canon of St Paulís Cathedral said. ìTo gather as Christians for a campaign such as ìMake Poverty Historyî is to affirm that God is somehow present even in the long-term poverty that goes unreported in the media. We find in our determination to eradicate poverty, that we are brought together as human beings across all boundaries.î