A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Internationally acclaimed actor Bill Nighy is a dedicated and hard-working ambassador for Oxfam.
In 2005, Bill starred in The Girl in the Café, a TV drama about a civil servant who tries to persuade world leaders at a G8 conference to tackle poverty in developing countries. Frustrated by the slow progress made by real G8 leaders in delivering aid, Bill travelled to Tanzania with Oxfam in June 2007 to see for himself how aid works. He visited projects including schools and hospitals.
"Aid does work, it does get through and it can make an incredible difference," says Bill. "I've seen children being taught, learning to read and write and they're doing it because we put pressure on our government to deliver the aid."
"My trip with Oxfam has given me hope that if rich countries keep their aid promises and deliver trade justice to the world's poor, then in our generation, there is every chance that poor countries like Tanzania will be upstanding and on the road to being totally self-sufficient."
A tenacious campaigner
In 2008, Bill joined Oxfam in Japan for the G8 Summit, to lobby world leaders and remind them about the Millennium Development Goals. Oxfam ambassadors signed an open letter to the G8 leaders, calling on them to use the summit to respond urgently to global poverty and deliver justice for the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. He spoke to the media and helped highlight the issue of international aid. He also met with Madame Fakuda, wife of the Japanese Prime Minister, and Sarah Brown to talk about the issue of maternal health – the improvement of maternal health through universal access to reproductive health care is one of the Millennium Development Goals. An active and tenacious campaigner, Bill wrote articles for the media about the G8 meeting, he also wrote to Gordon Brown about the threat to the aid budget.
In the same year, together with global figures including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Sir David Attenborough, Bill signed an open letter urging world leaders at the UN meeting in Poland to tackle climate change and safeguard the futures of millions of poor people.
In addition to his campaigning work, Bill is an enthusiastic and effective fundraiser. In 2009, he helped launch Oxfam GB's inaugural Bookfest; he swapped the film set for a shift volunteering at an Oxfam bookshop, with the aim of encouraging the UK public to donate more books to Oxfam. The resulting publicity increased donations to Oxfam bookshops by 40 per cent.
Robin Hood Tax
Bill is also supporting the Robin Hood Tax. A group of fifty organizations, including Oxfam, have come together to call for a tiny tax on bankers that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change at home and abroad. He stars in a short film directed by Richard Curtis, "The Banker". In the film, Bill plays a senior banking executive who is being quizzed about the tax.
More recently, Bill Nighy also played a regretful banker in “Future News”, a short film that takes place ten years from now in a Europe which has seen the effective implementation of the FTT by all the key financial players with the exception of the UK. As representatives from Germany, France and Spain highlight the successes of the tax, Britain – represented by a banker (Bill Nighy) - fumes at missing the opportunity to introduce the 0.05% tax of financial instruments such as shares, bonds and derivatives.
Watch: Future News
G8 & G20
In 2010 Bill travelled to Canada to attend the G8 and G20 summits and put pressure on world leaders attending. The main focus was calling on new aid for the maternal health MDG and for a Robin Hood Tax. In 2011 Bill joined Oxfam at the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, again pushing hard for a Robin Hood Tax.
A staunch supporter, Bill devotes a huge amount of time and energy to Oxfam despite his busy work schedule.