Words by Martin Collins
Photos: Swale Friends of the Earth
It was a lovely blue-skied late summer morning in the park as the marchers assembled.
Most were school children, some with their parents and grandparents in tow. The event was instigated, planned and led by Faversham students, who welcomed the participation of members of other organisations. We formed up and set off, along Newton Road and down Preston Street, through the Market Place, West Street, Court Street, and back to the start. Banners aloft, placards waving, with drums and whistles. Half way round the marchers, growing in confidence on what was for the great majority their first demonstration, found their voices and set up a call-and-response chant. What was our number? I think about a hundred and fifty – some said more. The crowd which was dismissed from the park with words of encouragement from a student activist seemed larger than the one which had set off an hour before. As the march made its progress, the response which the striking students and their friends received was overwhelmingly positive: a few looks of bemusement but many shouts in solidarity, much waving in support and ‘beeps’ from passing motorists. There was one dark moment when a person cocooned in a large black 4x4 tried to intimidate Junior school children as they used the Post Office crossing – but they marched on, unaffected).
Faversham’s ‘Strike for Climate’ added to the 350,000 people throughout the country who marched on 20 September and to six or seven million protesters globally, in 4,500 locations in 150 countries. All told, it seemed a happy, right event to be part of – and one which lifted the spirits. It was good to see our Mayor joining the throng with other Liberal Democrats and with representatives of the Green and Labour parties.
The government cites its target of zero carbon by 2050 (with no sign of a meaningful plan even for that) as evidence that it comprehends the scale of the approaching disruption. There will be other demonstrations, in many places, bigger and perhaps less agreeable than this was, as the effects of climate change become ever more apparent. As a number of the students’ placards made clear, they know it is their future which is being sacrificed.
If only the voting age was five …
Swale Friends of the Earth has set up a Climate Action Group to promote solutions to the climate emergency. More details on their Facebook page or email: firstname.lastname@example.org