PoverTee Day: Go casual, beat hunger

Wear a T-shirt, donate at least £2 to charity – and help the world's poor. Nina Lakhani explains all
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Indy Politics

ActionAid will this week launch a campaign to raise money and awareness for global poverty by asking people across the UK to wear a T-shirt for a day and donate £2 for the privilege of doing so.

The campaign, which launches on Friday, features Sir Paul McCartney, Helen Mirren, Joanna Lumley and Ricky Gervais, among the household names who have designed T-shirts – based on their own personalities – for the first ever PoverTee Day.

The charity hopes the campaign will highlight the plight of some 950 million people across the world who will go hungry this year "despite the fact that there is enough food to feed every one of them". Workers for the charity also point to the need for more work on Aids, which kills more than 7,500 people every day. Four out of five of these are in Africa.

Most recently, ActionAid has stepped up its efforts in Pakistan, providing emergency aid to hundreds of thousands of Swat Valley civilians who have fled their homes to escape fighting between the army and the Taliban.

Charities working in Pakistan criticised Western governments last week for failing to pledge enough money to cope with the huge numbers displaced by conflict in Swat. ActionAid hopes the PoverTee campaign will trigger a groundswell of public support and put pressure on governments to fill a $42m (£25m) funding gap. There are 2.5 million internal refugees in Pakistan who need food, clean water, shelter and medicines.

Janine Goddard from the charity said yesterday: "Money is needed more urgently than ever, as people in developing countries are now facing a double crisis: the financial crisis and the food crisis, which is happening at the moment in Pakistan.

"Currently, over a billion people going to bed hungry every night around the world, and that's about to get even worse with the recession. Food prices are staying very high and the devaluation of the pound means the money ActionAid is using to fund projects abroad is worth less in those countries.

"Asking celebrities to design T-shirts based on their personalities and attitudes to hunger will raise even more money for PoverTee Day, and also gives fans a chance to own a one-off design. The eBay auction will go directly to ActionAid's work with some of the poorest people and communities in the world."

Eight stars have thrown their weight behind this effort, designing poverty-themed T-shirts, which people can bid for on eBay from tomorrow to raise money for the charity's aid work in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

All proceeds from the T-shirt auction will go towards projects such as school meals for poor children in Malawi, irrigation programmes for farmers in Ethiopia, and help for desperate refugees in Pakistan's northern battleground.

Independent on Sunday readers will have the exclusive opportunity to win Helen Mirren's T-shirt by logging on to the website below. Bids for the Oscar-winning actress's design, which draws attention to the fact that 70 per cent of the world's poorest people are women, start at £2.

Paul McCartney's design is expected to attract the most attention and has a £300 minimum bid attached. All other bids start at 99p, but all the one-off designs are expected to fetch at least £2,500 for the charity.

The elevated price of Sir Paul's T-shirt comes despite the fact that he designed it himself and without enlisting the help of his fashion designer daughter, Stella McCartney.

Unsuccessful bidders can support the campaign by wearing any T-shirt of their choice to school or work this Friday and donating £2.

The charity is hoping to emulate some of the success of the Make Poverty History wrist bands that were supported by the veteran charity workers Sir Bob Geldof and Bono. Eight million people wore the plastic white bands in 2005, after the simple idea became a must-have fashion item and a political symbol for the world's great and good.

Win Helen Mirren's T-shirt!

Simply log on to www.myactionaid.org.uk/independentonsunday/donate- and give a minimum of £2. The competition runs until Friday, and the winner will be selected at random. Good luck!