Global summit explores grassroots solutions to poverty

A major conference exploring how grassroots projects can provide lasting solutions to world poverty is taking place in London on Friday.

A major conference exploring how grassroots projects can provide lasting solutions to world poverty is taking place in London on Friday.

Organised by London Conservative MEP Syed Kamall, the Global Poverty Summit aims to galvanise support for non-governmental solutions to helping the world’s poor. It is backed by international figures including former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who have both recorded video messages.

Mr Kamall said: “The centralised, top down approach has failed the poorest in our society. Globalisation’s riches do not always trickle down to their level and while welfare may help recipients get through the day, it does not provide a route out of poverty. In too many communities there is an absence of hope.

“International aid and large NGOs have a role to play, but I passionately believe that there are solutions to be found in local communities across the world. Empowering people to tackle some of the toughest issues in their communities is incredibly inspiring.”

The Summit, held under the auspices of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, will hear from speakers from around the world who have put these principles into action.

Bob Woodson is a former civil rights activist whose Woodson Center is helping to revitalise urban neighbourhoods in the United States. Dorothea Arndt will explain how the Hand-in-Hand organisation fights poverty in the developing world by training small groups of women how to use their own pooled savings to start businesses and providing access to micro-loans. Hand-in Hand aims to create 3.7 million jobs worldwide by 2021 and is already 80% of the way there.

There will also be representatives from a retraining and education programme in rural Romania and a cycling scheme delivering food prepared by refugees in Cairo.

Closer to home, the London Community Foundation connects those in need with people willing to give. It has distributed more than £55 million over 22 years to projects such as Streets of Growth, which helps young people out of a life of drugs and gangs and into training and employment.

The Cato Institute’s Michael D. Tanner, one of the United States’ most influential thinkers on innovative solutions to tackling poverty, is a keynote speaker.

Mr Kamall said: “All these schemes have one thing in common. They work from the bottom up, are not necessarily reliant on the state or trickle down economics for their survival and offer hope to those who have little or none.

“The event’s aim is simple. To produce a report providing clearly defined steps for community organisations, philanthropists and all the charitably minded amongst us to tackle poverty and exclusion within our local communities.”

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