First-time demonstrators: Friends of the Earth’s top tips.

16th August 2019

Over the past couple of years demonstrations in the UK have seen a resurgence in popularity, and the Global Climate Strikes in September 2019 are likely to attract hundreds of thousands of people –young and old. Despite the friendly atmosphere, it’s not uncommon to be nervous or unsure – especially if you’re a first-timer.

From pinning down a meeting point to bringing snacks for the march, we’ve pulled together the top tips for the first-time demonstrator – pooling knowledge from over 40 years of campaigning experience. 

  1. Bring a buddy. It’s always less scary when you’re not flying solo. Demonstrations are peaceful, welcoming atmospheres but pairing up with a friend or bringing your family is a great way to boost your confidence ahead of your first march.
  2. Wear comfortable clothes. To make the most of your experience you’ll want to stay for several hours, so you won’t want to cut things short because of rubbing shoes! Keep the unpredictable UK weather in mind; bring sun cream for a heatwave and a packable raincoat for downpours.Wearing matching clothing will also help you spot the members of your group easier – particularly helpful with kids! And if you want to print a custom slogan or your group’s name, you can do so easily in our shop. 
  3. Plan your exact meeting point. Demonstrations are busy and the dense cluster of people can lead to weakened phone signalTravelling with your friends or family is the best way to ensure that you’re together from the outset. If you’re meeting people there it’s better to choose somewhere a bit further away from the gathering point and then head over together – it’s hard to find a familiar face in a massive march. Also take your pal with you if you have to break off the march route to use the toilet, as they may be hard to find again.
  4. Snacks maketh the protestor. Demonstrations can be hard work (especially if you’ve got little ones on your shoulders), so keep your energy levels up by bringing plenty of snacks and water for you and your group – in a reusable bottle, of course. 
  5. Get creative and colourful. If you have the time beforehand, go to town on a placard. From creative wordplay to bold colours, placards are what form the most memorable images from demonstrations. Not to worry if you’ve not got the time though, you can pick up materials from organisers (and at the end of the day it’s your presence and voice which matter the most.)
  6. Come ready for fun… There are usually bands, choirs and musicians that come to demonstrations so get ready to dance as well as march!
  7. …and be open to making new friends. Demonstrations are a great place to meet new people and make friends. Bring something to share with protesters you don’t know yet. Anything from chocolates or satsumas to music or smiles; sharing with your fellow protesters will increase feelings of unity and lift everybody’s mood.
  8. Embrace new ideas. With such a wide range of strikers, the demonstration will be a great opportunity to talk to other people about the issues close to their hearts and find out about amazing campaigns you never knew existed.
  9. Social media is a powerful tool. Posting to social media with the relevant hashtag is the best way of spreading the message as far as possible, especially among those who are unable to join the demonstration. That said, make sure you’re present in the moment and not looking at a phone screen too much – you’ll want to make the most of your experience, and you may also struggle with signal.
  10. Be ready for what comes next. Marches are a great way to show how many people are care about the climate crisis, but one march won’t solve all our problems. Be ready to get involved after the march (you can have a sit down and a cup of tea first). From joining a Climate Action group , writing to your MP, or just talking to your friends and family about the issues you’ve campaigned around –there’s lots you can do to keep the demonstration going.