Local events matter and are a powerful way to connect with your MP and push an issue higher up her/his agenda. Events also inspire others to be activists and build solidarity in the community on issues.
The UK has a vital lifesaving role to play on Yemen, where 24 million people now need humanitarian assistance. This page contains tips and links to all the resources you will need to plan a compelling event on Yemen.
This is a UK issue. On the Security Council, the UK is the 'lead' country for Yemen. It also has close bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia - the country that is leading military action against Yemen's Houthi rebels and is, according to the UN, responsible for the majority of civilian deaths. The UK must use its influence with Saudi Arabia to press them to adhere to the current ceasefire and ongoing peace talks.
While significant planning will be required, events can be rewarding and productive if they involve your MP and are action oriented.
UNA-UK has joined forces with a host of advocacy and humanitarian organisations to campaign together to reduce the suffering in Yemen. Below is our shared list of recommendations for which we urge you to personally ask the Foreign Secretary to action. Here is a downloadable list of 'asks' to Government and tips on how to ensure your event is a success.
At the end of the page there is a form so you can let us know how you got on. Please help us spread the word by sharing this page widely.
Key asks - what to include
- Put the upmost diplomatic and public pressure on the Saudis and Emiratis to agree to ceasefire talks covering the entire country, and to join peace negotiations leading to a lasting political settlement. To ensure peace talks are inclusive and include Yemeni women, youth and civil society.
- Suspend UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates whilst their remains a clear risk that these will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law.
- Work unceasingly with the various actors to ensure aid agencies have the fullest possible access to all regions of the country especially Hudaydah, Sanna and Taiz.
- Work unceasingly with the Saudis to ensure that both aid agencies and journalists have full access to Sanna International Airport.
- Put the upmost diplomatic and public pressure on the Saudis to:
- inject money into Yemen’s central bank so tens of thousands of public sector workers, including those in Houthi-controlled areas, can be paid
- allow more commercial imports of food, fuel, cooking oil, medical supplies and other essential items to enter Hudaydah and Salif ports,
- stop blocking imports of containers into Hudaydah that contain essential goods such as milk powder, medical supplies, cooking oil, cleaning agents etc.
- persuade the Yemini Government:
- to issue ‘letters of credit’ to commercial importers of food and to facilitate this by using the promised $2b Saudi loan to ensure that both northern and southern branches of the Central Bank are adequately financed,
- immediately facilitate the onward road transfer of the very large number of containers ‘stuck’ in the port of Aden
- Pursue accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law throughout the conflict.
- To demand that the Saudis stop bombing populated areas.
Events can be an effective way to influence your MP, but only if they are action oriented and if your MP knows about them! The best way to do this is to either get your MP to attend your event in person or by getting attendees to sign a petition based on UNA-UK's key asks (or both!). Events come in all shapes and sizes; it could be an informal film night in your sitting room with friends or a large-scale event at your hall. The following tips may be helpful:
Consider inviting your MP
- Find out who your MP is by typing your postcode in at www.theyworkforyou.com
- Find their contact details MPs at www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
- Phone up their constituency office and ask when they might be free to attend an event on Yemen (having possible dates and venues ready could help convince their team that you are serious). If you cannot find a mutually convenient date, consider holding the event regardless but make sure you to prepare a petition for attendees to sign so that you can relay it to your MP afterwards
- Decide on a title and theme – for example, ‘Yemen can't wait’ or ‘Britain’s role in the Yemen conflict’.
- Consider partners – working with youth groups, faith groups or branches of NGOs such as Amnesty, Oxfam and Save the Children could bring your event to many more people.
- Book a venue – factors to consider include: cost, location, capacity and disability access. A public address system and roving microphones may also be helpful.
- Select a chairperson – the chairperson ensuring speakers respect time limits and focus on the questions asked.
- Don’t go empty-handed – make sure you have plenty of UNA-UK supporter cards to ensure you can stay in touch with attendees (contact Hayley Lashmar email@example.com for these).
- An attendance list on which people can give their name and email address could also help you find out who in your community is interested in events like this. Please share these with UNA-UK following the event so that we can keep them up to date with our work.
- Get some help – it can be useful to have a couple of stewards on standby during the meeting to offer any assistance required, such as passing around microphones.
- Do you know someone with experience of living or working in Yemen? If so, consider asking them to speak at the event as they may be able to give a compelling personal account of the conflict.
- Otherwise, why not read UNA-UK's resources and write a short presentation on the issue, before moving into a group discussion.
- Before you finish make sure you get all willing attendees to sign a petition for you to send to your local MP. Please consider using UNA-UK's asks (above) as the basis for your petition.
- Aim to publicise the meeting as widely and as early as possible to ensure the highest possible attendance.
- Create flyers – hand these out in your town or city during busy periods.
- Contact your local media – get in touch with local newspapers and radio stations, giving them a short and snappy explanation of the event. Be sure to mention names of confirmed speakers and include contact details, should they require further information.
- Use social media – set up a Facebook event and invite all your contacts, providing regular updates on the event page to ensure maximum visibility.
- List your event on UNA-UK’s website – submit your event for inclusion on UNA-UK’s events calendar (www.una.org.uk/add-event).
- Make posters and flyers in advance, and draw up a list of all the public places where details of the hustings can be advertised.
- In your correspondence with invitees you might like to ask them to publicise it themselves.
There is a lot more guidance on publicising local UNA events on our dedicated webpage, www.una.org.uk/local.
- Send your petition to your local MP or contact their constituency office to organise a handover in person
- Make sure you take some good pictures of your event, featuring the various candidates who attended, and share them on social media, with your local newspaper and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Share the outcomes and experience of the event with the rest of the world by submitting a news article (www.una.org.uk/add-branch-news)