Speaking for WDM in Milton Keynes

Speaking for WDM in Milton Keynes

Date: 13 November 2012

Written by Pauline Welch from Milton Keynes WDM.

On 8 November the Milton Keynes WDM group took part in a panel discussion at the Global Development Conference: The Millennium Development Goals – ‘Are we nearly there yet?’, organised jointly by the University of Northampton and Global Education Milton Keynes. The group also ran a workshop and a stall at the event to try and engage students in WDM’s campaigns.

This was the first time the group had taken part in a panel discussion on behalf of WDM and it’s not something everyone has the confidence to do at first. Here is Pauline’s account of what it was like to take part, and whether it was worth doing:

We signed up to do the workshop very late in the day. Reluctantly, as we knew it would take a lot of our time to prepare, but we decided that it was too good a chance to miss. We are glad that we took part in the conference because:

  • We learned a lot in the process.  If only we could repeat the experience next week, we might stand a chance of getting good at it!
  • The plenary session gave us an unprecedented opportunity to give a large group of staff and students from across Milton Keynes and Northampton University an introduction to WDM’s work (approximately 120 people).
  • Being on the panel was much easier than I thought it would be and I enjoyed it. The students came up with some excellent general questions which I felt able to field thanks to WDM briefings and reports.

WDM seemed to have a very different position to the other organisations represented. It stood out as an organisation that names and addresses underlying causes to global poverty, the pattern of effects and where responsibility lies for change.
Our message seemed directly at odds with that of the keynote speaker who was taking economic growth in developing countries as his major indicator of hope regarding progress in the Millennium Development Goals. He did say there was still much to do and asked what about those who remain in absolute poverty and at the mercy of natural events while waiting for economic ‘catch up’; but he did not mention the active impoverishment of  people and planet as a direct result of corporate greed and exploitation, nor the effects of deregulated markets on food prices or the growing levels of malnutrition. It seemed to me that he invited complacency. Whether it would have been the right place or time to have directly challenged this is another matter. These things can take you by surprise. Had we researched the speaker, we would have worked to give a stronger challenge to his message in our workshop. It did not seem the right time or place to do so during his speech.

We found it more difficult to get interest in our stall. Despite the efforts of the event organisers, most of the students were more interested in the buffet!

Would we do it again? Yes, yes! And we are sure we would do it better. Experience is all.

If you are interested in giving a talk about WDM or running a workshop, we have resources such as template talks that you can use. Our staff are also happy to help with planning an event. Get in touch with Sarah at [email protected] or call 020 7820 4900 if you would like more information.

Find out more about Milton Keynes WDM: groups.wdm.org.uk/miltonkeynes