MPs take their lobbying skills overseas

Eleven MPs will visit developing countries this summer to teach community groups how to lobby politicians. Among those taking part is Liberal Democrat voluntary sector spokeswoman Susan Kramer.

International development charity VSO will take each MP to one of 10 countries, where they will advise local groups working on Aids, education, disability and human rights issues.

"Our partners will be making use of the MPs' valuable skills and knowledge in lobbying and influencing policy," said Judith Brodie, director of VSO UK. "The MPs will be working with disadvantaged people in some of the poorest countries in the world, helping them to get their voices heard by decision-makers.

"We hope their VSO experience will provide the MPs with a unique and valuable insight into development issues that will inform their work back in Parliament."

The 11, including five Labour MPs, four Liberal Democrats, one Conservative and one SNP member, will go for two or three weeks each during the parliamentary recess as part of VSO's Project PolVol.

Who's going where?

  • Hilary Armstrong Labour MP for North West Durham, will work with Tenmet, a national network of education bodies and organizations in Tanzania, to help it lobby for better quality education.
  • Tony Baldry, Conservative MP for North Oxfordshire, will go to Nepal to teach marginalised groups such as Dalits (‘untouchables') how to behave in the newly established democracy.
  • Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Canning Town, will advise a sexual health centre in Bangladesh on lobbying on Aids and HIV policies.
  • Julia Goldsworthy, Liberal Democrat MP for Falmouth and Camborne, will work with local government organisations in Cameroon, where government is becoming decentralised.
  • Keith Hill, Labour MP for Streatham, will work with the Ghana Federation of the Disabled to help it ensure the provisions of the Ghanaian Disability Act 2006 are fully implemented.
  • Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting, will work at the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights in Sierra Leone.
  • Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park and voluntary sector spokeswoman, will advise the National Association of Positive Women Ethiopians on lobbying for Aids and HIV policies for women and children.
  • Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Western Isles, will help an education organisation in Cambodia to lobby the government for better salaries and conditions for teachers. MacNeil was a teacher before becoming an MP.
  • Laura Moffatt, Labour MP for Crawley, will help Sierra Leone's central referral hospital to assess nursing management and training. Moffat was an NHS nurse for 25 years before becoming an MP.
  • Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East, will mentor the Gujarat State Network of People Living with HIV and Aids, in India, in campaigning and coalition-building techniques.
  • Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, will work with VK Home Based Care in Zambia to lobby for better recognition and support for people who care for AIDS sufferers in their homes.

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