Schoolchildren and students stage global climate strike demo at Sunderland Civic Centre
Protesters, young and old, came together with a strong message of tackling climate change on Friday, September 20.
Students and schoolchildren gathered together at noon to take part in a nationwide walkout. Locals, visitors and even dogs came to join them.
It marked the start of a week long Global Climate Strike activity across the world, led by 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, a school striker for climate change who has become an influential voice for youth climate activism.
The Chair of Parent Future Sunderland, Graeme Jobes, organised the Sunderland rally to help to spread the message while members of the Green Party shared their thoughts on the future of the planet.
Graeme said: “We have a duty for the planet as well as Sunderland. I know for a fact that Sunderland Council have yet done anything to follow up the climate emergency motion. We’re prepared to work directly with the council as a citizens assembly to provide free advice and guidance to work as a collective. We need the power of imagination to work globally, nationally and locally.
“Sunderland is a great place. There is no criticism of the council as we are aware they have restricted spending but we need the community in with the council to work out a plan that means that my kids and all others will have a future in many years.”
Sunderland University students came armed with banners to add to the support.
Digital Film Production student, Lewis Harley, 21 was one of many who joined in. He said: “I first became aware of the protests in April and since then I wanted to get involved because its our future and our children’s future. It’s bigger than anything I’ve ever faced in my life before and I’ve got a moral obligation to be here.”
President of Wellbeing for the Student’s Union, Helder Costa, claims that the Environmental Society at the University is constantly growing. He said: “If you do want to make a change, all sorts of people will come together.”
But it wasn’t just the youth of the city who came to support the protest.
Neil Holm, 74, came to the city all of the way from Australia while travelling across the UK. He feels passionate about the planet and found the Sunderland strike when searching for the Global Climate Strike. He said: “We’ve had massive rallies in Australia and we just want to make our voice heard wherever we can.
Students have been active all over the world and its their future but we created the mess so we want to help them do this.”
GMB Northern Region was one of many local unions that came along.
Branch Secretary of the local GMB branch, Dave Riddle, said: “We are raising the profile and hopefully getting people to sit up and realise what’s going on. We need to get the temperature down to avoid the floods and fires increasing.”
Assistant Branch Secretary of the local authority GMB branch, Kevin Fox, said: “The number of people is important, we need to get everyone we can to come together. The more people we have, the less likely we can be ignored.”