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Fringe benefits: Save the Children at the UK party conferences

The party conference season this year has been a busy time for Save the Children, with several really successful fringe events and receptions, and informal meetings with politicians from the three main parties.

Fighting child poverty at home

At the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Party conferences we also held fringes to showcase our Families and Schools Together (FAST) programme.

We made the case that the government should ensure that all parents from deprived communities have access to programmes that help them to support their children’s early years so that they have the best start in life at school.  

Panellists included government ministers Sarah Teather MP and Maria Miller MP, who both praised the FAST programme and set out how the government will be taking forward the early years agenda to ensure that no child is left behind.

Children’s voices

The ministers were also joined by parents from our FAST programmes in Wales and Manchester who were able to bring to life how the FAST programme has helped both them and their children.

At Labour Party conference, four young people from our In My Back Yard programme had a busy day meeting MPs. 

They were at conference to discuss their Our Shout campaign on the cost of school uniform, and were excited that they managed to secure a meeting with shadow education secretary Andy Burnham.

Social mobility

Mr Burnham was very impressed with their campaign and promised to help them with each of their campaign calls – we’ll be following this up with him and his successor Stephen Twigg.

Our domestic fringe event at Labour focused on whether an unequal Britain can truly be socially mobile, with shadow work and pensions minister Margaret Curran MP on the panel.

She praised Save the Children for bringing young people to Conference, arguing that it is essential to hear the voices of children and young people who are living in poverty, and also raised her concerns about the language of social mobility, and that it should not be used as a way to diffuse the debate around poverty and inequality.

Chancellor and deputy Labour leader speak with passion about poverty

Our evening receptions at Labour and Conservative Party conferences are fast becoming an essential part of delegates’ conference schedules.

The receptions enable us to reach out to a broader audience of grassroots party members on both international development and UK poverty. At Labour, our keynote speaker was Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, who spoke about her visit to Sierra Leone with Save the Children earlier in the year.

At Conservatives, we continued with our successful partnership from last year with ConservativeHome, and were delighted that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne chose Save the Children for his only fringe speech at this year’s party conference.

Meeting deadlines

The Chancellor was shown a video about Save the Children’s work at home and abroad, and spoke passionately about his and the Conservative Party’s commitment to saving the lives of millions of children in the poorest parts of the world.

We also featured in Wednesday’s edition of ConservativeHome’s free daily newspaper read by all delegates at conference.

After the reception ended late on Tuesday night, we managed to meet the paper’s strict deadline (after nearly being thwarted by lack of internet connection within the secure zone) and secured a slot on the second page of the newspaper to be read by conference attendees on the day of the Prime Minister’s speech.

Britain’s role in the world

We also held a series of foreign policy fringe debates across all three conferences which discussed the UK’s role in the world for the greater good.

This series produced some fascinating debates about Britain’s place in the international order and how the UK should be looking to influence global issues such as security, climate change and humanitarian emergencies.

The Political Editor of the Economist, David Rennie, chaired all three debates, with a number of politicians and experts taking part, including Foreign Office minister David Lidington, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, Baroness Shirley Williams, Ann Grant, Tristram Hunt MP, Jeremy Browne MP and Shane Greer.

Building more support for our work

This conference season has been a great opportunity for us to touch base with politicians and party members and engage with them on our key issues, both international and UK.

We’ve come away with new contacts, deeper connections with the parties and the latest on relevant policy areas.

Please see the photos below for some highlights of our events this year.

Justin Forsyth, Save the Children CEO, with George Osborne


Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, at our reception
Our reception at the Tory conference
Our fringe event at the Labour party conference, chaired by David Rennie of The Economist


Douglas Alexander and Jeremy Browne
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander and Lib Dem Foreign Office minister, Jeremy Browne, speak at our fringe events


Harriet Harman, Labour's Deputy Leader, addresses party members at our reception

Watch our fringe meeting with International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell at the Conservative party conference

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