Food campaign news
Barclays accepts shame award for its role in causing hunger across the world
© Jess Hurd/World Development Movement
It’s been the hot topic of conversation in the WDM office for last few weeks - the Barclays AGM. In preparation for the big day tomorrow we held a photo stunt at Barclays HQ to hand in the Public Eye 'shame award' that Barclays won earlier this year for its role in food speculation.
We met inside the Canary Wharf shopping centre already feeling nervous about any security presence as we had been informed that security goes into lockdown as soon as they catch even a glimpse of a banner or placard. Being careful not to draw too much attention to ourselves, we quickly changed into our glamorous evening wear and started to make our way towards the Barclays building. Despite the cold and struggling to walk in four inch heels (not something I do often!) we got some great shots from outside the Barclays offices. We also attracted some slightly bemused looks from office workers who seemed to find the photo shoot good entertainment for their morning cigarettes.
After finishing the photos came the moment of truth – could we get past security to hand in the award? As we approached the door, followed closely by our photographer Jess, the possibility of getting in seemed highly unlikely. Surprisingly we managed to breeze past security, whose only comment was to joke about the cold.
Speaking with one of the receptionists we explained that we were there to hand in an award to Barclays’ group chief executive, Bob Diamond. Our extravagant attire attracted more attention from Barclays employees who asked about the award and if it was a nice one, rather than a “you’re rubbish one”. Once reception had called up to Bob Diamond’s office and informed him the World Development Movement were there to present an award, we were surprised to hear that he was on his way down.
Unfortunately Mr Diamond must have had second thoughts on meeting us, as he sent down one of his staff instead. Mr Diamond’s helper greeted us with a warm smile and apologised for not being aware of the award. We quickly explained that it was for Barclays Capital’s irresponsible corporate behaviour as the UK’s lead player in food speculation. It is safe to say that his smile faded quickly as he begrudgingly accepted it.
All in all the day was a great success. We managed to draw attention to the bank’s involvement in speculation and the devastating impact this has on the world’s poorest communities through pushing up food prices. We can also assume that the stunt was enough to cause a stir in the higher echelons of Barclays Capital as Canary Wharf security stopped and questioned us as we were leaving the area.
Tomorrow is the bank’s AGM and we hope that this will be another opportunity to get our voice heard and start encouraging action on Barclays’ damaging speculative activity.
Kathryn is fundraising and communications assistant at WDM and helps raise money from individuals and ethical companies.