Bootcampers take part in direct action outside the Bank of England

Bootcamp grads Noni and Rachel staged a stunt outside the Bank of England last month, declaring it a Financial Crime Scene. I talked to Noni to find out more about their campaign...

How did you get involved in campaigning around the economy?
It all started with Bootcamp to be honest! Last year I was lucky to be awarded a scholarship to attend Bootcamp 10. At the time I felt like I didn’t know anything about the economy. I’d grown up in a post-crash UK and had originally moved here from Zimbabwe, so I had experienced turbulent economies, but I had never felt like I really understood economics – and seeing the type of people who would talk about it (often very privileged people), I thought it wasn’t for me.

That all changed on the third day of camp, when I met Rachel Oliver who was a trainer on camp and also a graduate from the first ever Bootcamp. She inspired me with her passion for changing the economy, and convinced me to get involved in Positive Money.

What do Positive Money do?
Positive Money is one of the organisations leading the fight for a fairer, more democratic and sustainable economy. They do research and campaigns around this issue, and also lobby the government for alternative monetary and economic systems. At the moment we’re involved in a coalition campaign with a number of other organisations including War on Want and the Robin Hood Tax called #ChangeFinance.

The average household had lost out on over £23,000 each since the crash – and the austerity measures that happened post-crash disproportionately affected women and people of colour – so it’s something that makes me angry on a very personal level!

Tell us more about the #ChangeFinance campaign! What does it involve?
Earlier this month Rachel and I staged a stunt outside the Bank of England and other major banks around the City of London, by declaring them ‘Financial Crime Scenes’.

We wanted to highlight the fact that the reckless behaviour of the finance sector – that continues to have real impact on the lives of people like you and me, through austerity measures which has affected services like the NHS. We put up crime scene tape outside of the banks like RBS, HSBC, and Lloyds TSB, and a group of campaign supporters got dressed up as Crime Scene Investigators. A few of us dressed as nurses and held ‘Cuts Casualty’ placards.

We then delivered a giant greetings card to RBS to ‘celebrate’ the anniversary, filled with dozens of messages written by members of the public about how their lives had been affected by the crash.

Noni and fellow activists outside RBS earlier this month. Photograph by David Sandison.

Earlier this month we also organised a rally outside the Bank of England, and invited speakers including the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts Founder and PCS Vice President (and my fellow Bootcamp 10 graduate) Zita Holborne, as well as speakers from Sisters Uncut, and Disabled People Against Cuts.

How did the rally go? What were the best and worst moments?
I was really proud of the diversity of voices at the rally – I wanted to platform people from marginalised groups that cuts to services had impacted the most. A lot of people currently involved in new economy organising are quite privileged. Women, people of colour, and young people aren’t often aren’t listened to when it comes to the economy – so it was important to me that we give them the space to speak.

However, campaigning as part of a coalition group is often stressful. Rachel and I found ourselves coordinating with a huge amount of people whose values didn’t necessarily align with ours, or others within the group.

Members of the public and activists at the #ChangeFinance rally in London. Photograph by David Sandison.

What do you think needs to be done to make economic campaigning more accessible?
The way people talk about the economy is often inaccessible. Terms like ‘Quantitative Easing’ makes finance seem like a scary, academic subject, which disempowers people and makes them feel like they have no place in a new economy movement. There are some great resources online which are working to tackle this, like this Banking 101 series. A number of organisations are also working to change this including Ecnmy and New Economy Organisers Network.

So what’s next for you?
Bootcamp trainer Guppi Bola and I are facilitating some workshops later this month to help organisations and new economy organisers think about the role of colonialism and empire and how its formed the economy as it is today. The economy is structurally racist, so I’m keen to make sure that people working towards a new economy are not reproducing those systemic oppressions.

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell addressing the rally in London. Photograph by David Sandison.

Delivering a giant anniversary card to RBS to mark the 10 year anniversary of the financial crash. Photograph by Simon Youel.

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