Today students from Stoke and Newcastle left schools, colleges and universities to participate in the marches to raise awareness about climate change.
The movement, nicknamed #Fridaysforfuture, began following the actions of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist who started missing school in 2018 to protest outside Swedish Parliament.
Students from over 2000 cities in over 100 countries took part in similar events, happening all over the world, organised by YouthStrike4Climate.
The Staffordshire specific protest was planned via social media by University students. Physical advertising such as posters were later displayed in areas younger people were expected to see them, to attract an audience.
Sam Gibbons, Event Coordinator for Stoke and Newcastle said: “Its really kind of monopolized from that loads of other international organisations that have taken part. This is the kind of first international call to action from young people from I think its over 80 countries now are taking part on the action and I kind of heard like first through social media.
“We are asking young people from all over Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle to take part in the strike. To not go into school, college or university as a protest to the Government. But internationally as well to say that young people’s future is being ruined by climate change and we really need to take a stronger action now.”
The protest itself took place at 11am, a large turnout of students from both Stoke and Keele universities, colleges and school choosing to attend. Many of them brought their own self designed posters and placards.
Sam Gibbons lead the event with a speech outside BBC Radio Stoke highlighting the importance that action is taken in preventing climate change now, especially for the younger generations.
Spectators and participants were invited to the front to voice their opinions. Many choosing to read pieces they had written in advance, some performing songs they had written for the event.
At midday the crowds made a move, they marched towards the Potteries Shopping Centre, stopping at the Blue Clock in Upper Market Square. Chants, such like: “The oceans are rising so are we!” were heard from the group as they walked.
Once at the new location another rally was held where more of the students who participated in the protest were handed the microphone to speak. At this point many new members of the public chose to show their support and join along with the rally.
The days protest ended with a march back to their starting point outside BBC Radio Stoke where after final “thankyou’s” from the organisers the crowd dissipated.
“Everyday people I think at first should be getting involved with activism” Sam said, “actually saying that we are not happy with this current system and we actually need change now I think that should be your first point.
“You can talk about your driving electric cars you can talk about your energy reduction. But the actual simplest way is to reduce meat and dairy from your diet. That’s probably the best way to reduce your energy impact.”
An estimated 130 billion tonnes of ice thaws out and falls into the ocean every year. This has resulted in a 3.39mm raise in sea levels annually since 1993. We are already starting to see the first examples of climate change refugees as people are displaced by the rising sea levels.
Students can help make a difference in a multitude of ways. Staffordshire university offers links and support to students wanting to learn more about reducing their carbon footprint.
Student Union Vice President, Steph Cairncross said, “I always say that the change starts with you. So you can do stuff like trying to save plastic, like using reusable water bottles, saying no to single use cutlery. Start growing your own food. But also, on a bigger scale it’s your voice that you need to use. You can use your voice to start talking to your educators or people who are in ‘power’. The people who make decisions and the rules of what energy companies you use. Are they renewable ones or are they really awful fossil fuel ones? Say ‘no we don’t want this, this is our future’.”
For any more information regarding the Climate Change strikes visit the YouthStrike4Climate – Stoke Facebook page.