Bootcamp grad and climate change campaigner, Jake, tells us about the rapid growth of the Youth Climate Strike in the UK - and his involvement in helping them organise!
How did you get involved with the Youth Climate Strike?
After doing some writing about youth and climate movements last year, I saw that students in the UK were starting to replicate the school strike model, so I knew right away that I wanted to get involved. I had just finished my previous campaigns job, so I had a bit of time, and it’s been a whirlwind since then!
What did it feel like on the day of the first strike?
I was filled with nerves on the day of the first strike in February, but also fairly relaxed at the same time. I think we were all expecting it to be much smaller than it was, so when our early estimates of numbers started to come through, and we were seeing around 20,000 students had taken part across the UK, I think we all felt pretty excited and like we were on the cusp of a movement emerging. March rolled around, and it exceeded all our expectations, with 50,000 young people in 150 towns and cities from the South West all the way to Scotland. It was so inspiring and fulfilling to see it happen after spending so much time working on this, but it’s also been really disappointing to see schools threatening punishment, calling the police on students and putting them in isolation and detention.
With so many people taking part, how did you ensure that the messaging was inclusive and accessible?
We’re trying to ensure that our messaging focuses on climate justice and addressing the associated economic and social inequality that comes hand in hand with the climate crisis. This movement will only be successful if it’s by the people and for the people to create a better world for all. That means breaking down structural oppression and bias in our workspaces, constantly challenging ourselves, using language that’s accessible to everyone, not just an academic or NGO bubble, and more. It’s a constant learning process, and we’re trying to do our best to create the kind of caring, inclusive and welcoming spaces and community that we want to see in the wider world.
If any folks reading this are keen to get involved, what should they do next?
Head over to ukscn.org and either get in contact to volunteer nationally, or register a strike to start organising in your town or city. It’s as easy as that. We will provide support, tips and advice to get you going. We also host a weekly open call at 7pm on a Wednesday evening on Zoom that any young people can join to get to know any upcoming plans and ask questions about the movement.
What’s next for Youth Strike 4 Climate movement?
The UK Student Climate Network is officially calling for a transformative economic programme in the UK, a Green New Deal, to address the climate crisis and will be building on this in the months to come. We’re also set for another global day of action on 24 May, before heading into a summer of movement building, exciting mass training and some surprises along the way.
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