Why Global Citizens Should Care
There are 736 million people who live in extreme poverty around the world — defined as living on less than £1.50 a day. The UN’s Global Goals aims to end extreme by 2030, and Britain has a huge role to play in that mission. Join our movement and take action here to fight for the world’s poorest people.

People who sort-of congratulated me on my last new job: my mum, my grandparents, HMRC.

People to welcome Rory Stewart to his new role as Secretary of State at the Department for International Development (DfID): 351 personalised emails and 3,509 tweets from Global Citizens who believe it’s one of the most important positions in government.

Alright, Rory. You win.

Stewart landed the job when another political merry-go-round saw him replace Penny Mordaunt on May 1, who was appointed to lead the UK’s department for defence after Gavin Williamson was sacked for an alleged leak from a National Security Council meeting.

Got all that? It means that Stewart, 46, is now in charge of overseeing the majority of our lifesaving UK aid budget. He therefore carries the immense responsibility of tackling the shocking inequality that in 2015 left 736 million people living in extreme poverty around the world, officially defined as living on less than $1.90 (£1.50) a day.

Stewart has seemingly lived a hundred lives. He’s got experience in government with the foreign office and departments for the environment and justice; he tutored Prince William at Harvard; he’s written bestselling books about travelling countries like Afghanistan on foot; he delivered his wife’s baby on their bathroom floor — and Brad Pitt owns the film rights for the biopic of his life.

But he’s never had a job like this one. The UK is a world leader in fighting extreme poverty. However, although DfID is one of the most effective and transparent spenders of aid on the planet, its vital work is always under attack. It’s the usual suspects — the Sun, the Daily Mail, Nigel Farage and his mates — and it means that we need to work harder than ever to protect our proud support for the world’s poorest people.

That’s why we asked dedicated Global Citizens from all corners of country to roll out the welcome carpet for Rory Stewart, and tell him exactly what UK aid means to them. 

The messages you wrote were truly awe-inspiring — and gave a hopeful snapshot into the vision that many amazing young activists have for the future. Here’s 10 of our favourites.

Sara P, Killin, Scotland

Good Morning Mr. Stewart,

Welcome to your new job! Horses for courses, eh! You are a sure winner! 

I support the lifesaving impact of UK aid, and want to see it spent effectively on tackling extreme poverty. There are many important issues that need UK aid — anything from vaccinating children against preventable diseases, to ensuring every woman is able to plan if and when to have children, through access to family planning.

Great to hear we are leading the world as global citizens. Let's keep up the good work!

Bethan A, London, England


I am writing from the Global Citizen App to welcome you to your new amazing role! I hope that the UK can continue to do as much as possible to make the world a better place for everyone. 

As a 17 year old starting to become involved in activism I have strongly started to believe in the power of the people and I hope that small community actions will add up to help us achieve this goal together. I would love to live in a future world that is not so divided by such harsh and unfair inequalities in social, economic, political, and environmental development. I will not be completely happy until ALL citizens can meet their basic rights and I’m sure that many people in the UK are behind you to achieve this.

Many thanks and wishing you the best of luck.

Nicole O, Dublin, Ireland

Secretary of State, Rory Stewart,

Welcome to the new job, Mr. Stewart! I am proud UK aid is helping to create a more equal world! You now have the immense responsibility of overseeing the majority of our international aid, the one part of our budget dedicated to tackling the shocking inequality that leaves 736 million people still living in extreme poverty. I support the lifesaving impact of UK aid, and want to see it spent effectively on tackling extreme poverty.

I would like to see UK aid spent on anything from vaccinating children against preventable diseases, to ensuring every woman is able to plan if and when to have children, through access to family planning. It’s not just a big job, it’s one of the most important jobs in government. And while most eyes are focused on figuring out our future relationship with the EU, it’s essential that helping the world’s poorest people however we can remains a priority.

You, the new Secretary of State need to know that people across the country support international aid, and want it to be spent as effectively as possible to tackle extreme poverty.

Thank you for everything that you will do that will benefit our future.

Julia D, Oxford, England

Dear Mr Stewart,

I am writing to wish you all the best in your new job. I am so proud of the work that the UK international development budget does in relieving poverty in the poorest parts of the world. It shocks me that we can send people to the moon yet on our planet we can't organise ourselves to ensure people have enough to eat. It also seems so wrong that women die in labour for the lack of cheap basic essentials.

In this job you can make the difference between life and death and between those living in absolute poverty and those having access to basic facilities for thousands of people. It is a huge responsibility to support this budget and to make sure it is spent effectively but it is so worthwhile. Britain's reputation in the world stands to gain so much by our country doing this well, so I hope you can raise the profile of your important job and do even more to help the world's poorest people.

Vanessa M, Aston le Walls, England

Dear Mr Stewart,

Welcome to your new post! As one with first hand experience of individuals who work to relieve some of the extreme negatives of poverty in Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone, I write to encourage you to use your new position to ensure that UK aid will not be reduced but rather that every penny given by British taxpayers is directed to help the people for whom it is intended — those in most need.  

I would also plead that aid should not be tied to any political or pseudo-social pressures that counter the cultural norms of the recipients.

Martin F, London, England

Dear Rory Stewart,

Despite not sharing your party's politics, I have been an admirer of yours for many years and am delighted to see you in your new job as Secretary of State for International Development. A better qualified MP would be hard to find.

I am sure you will resist the claims to divert international aid which, to quote Andrew Mitchell in a Telegraph article from 2015, makes Britain safer and morally better. I agree and feel sure you will not allow the budget to diverted by whoever leads the Conservative Party after Theresa May.

Anonymous Global Citizen

Secretary of State, Rory Stewart,

As a citizen of the world I can only thank you for the UK action at tackling inequality. It's a duty as world leading countries to show the example and make sure that the 21st century is about equality and no more poverty. 

I highly encourage your action and hope that it will last in time until the world poverty and inequality are not any more needed in the dictionary. Is there any better way to use public funding? I don't think so and I praise your action in that matter.

Bill C, Charlton Horethorne, England

Dear Rory Stewart,

Welcome to your new job. It's one of the most important in government, but probably one of which most people have little knowledge. 

We sometimes hear it said that “charity begins at home”. This is true of course and we need to do all we can to support the vulnerable in our own society. But if they mean “... and it should end at home” that is a very sad outlook.

The UK does a fantastic job of helping those overseas who have little or no access to the things we take for granted: food, clean water, shelter, education, medical care, equality of opportunity (especially for women and girls). Be assured of the support of many right-thinking people. Be proud to continue the longstanding tradition of UK aid.

Sam N, Paisley, Scotland

Dear Rory,

I just want to welcome you to the new job! I'm glad to hear that you support the lifesaving impact of UK aid, and want to see it spent effectively on tackling extreme poverty. 

I hope under your leadership DfID continues to vaccinate children against preventable diseases, to ensure every woman is able to plan if and when to have children through access to family planning, and help bring equality to all third world countries.

Also I am wishing you can be able to raise the budget to 1.5 %? 

John A, Shildon, England

Secretary of State, Rory Stewart,

Sincere congratulations, Mr Stewart, on your new appointment as SOS (surely an appropriate mnemonic).

I feel sure you must agree that the lifesaving impact of UK aid to the poorest regions of the world must be spent appropriately, effectively, and sustainably. 

Aid to fund “appropriate” vaccination against preventable diseases, and aid to fund family education for women are critical to the ongoing wellbeing of the individual, their society, and their country.

May I paraphrase Edmund Burke ... the only thing necessary for poverty to flourish is that good governments do nothing! Thank you for all the good and imminent works I feel confident you will undertake.

God bless you, your family, and your office.


Demand Equity

We Asked You to Welcome the UK’s New International Development Secretary. And Your Messages Were So Inspiring.

By James Hitchings-Hales