Yoshee Hummel - a new supporter of the People's assembly - describes attending a protest for the first time at the Britain Needs A Pay Rise demonstration.
The last time I had to meet at Embankment tube station was a good few years’ back when I was waiting to...waitress at the graduation ball for The Regents University. This is a Uni you don’t hear that much about but, as an anomaly student informed me, it is filled with the sons and daughters of the painfully rich international crowd. It was as lavish at Posh & Becks World Cup Party that I also waitressed at. Take a moment to think about that. And I was on £6.20 an hour so that combination of experiencing this spectacle plus salary meant that attending this march resonated with me, felt strangely rewarding and poignant.
I am no longer on that wage but I remember doing the maths and wanting to cry at the idea that if that were my hourly rate and I worked your average 40 hour week – well I’d have no chance. No one should have to deal with that.
I have never been on a march and I’ll admit that it’s because I felt that they don’t really change much. However, due to attending The People’s Assembly Question Time on the 9th October I felt compelled to get involved and stop making assumptions.
This time at Embankment, I found the tent of the group that I was to volunteer with and was pleasantly surprised to find it mainly filled with young female students. I had the suspicion (unfounded and only based on my own personal experience) that the ladies are not ones for politics; at least in my generation. Finding the contrary was uplifting to say the least.
I thought more could have been done to reach out to passers by but we really just ended up handing flyers and placards out to members of other left wing groups as we were all crowded around the entrance to the station. Still the camaraderie was there and you really felt a part of something.
I got to know a lovely Swedish student who totally put me to shame. She’s only been studying in London for a month and was already campaigning. Interesting fact; they have an actual feminist political party in Sweden ‘Feministiskt Initiativ’ that fell short of the 4% threshold required to win seats in parliament by only 0.9%. Feminism in Sweden is strong!
I spoke to another lady, whose role was to smooth out inefficiencies from admin to nursing within the NHS. She said that relatively speaking, she was worse off now than she was when she first graduated.
I was going to make a frivolous comment about what the right attire was to wear to a march against cuts to public services but actually...this was something that stood out. Personally it would have been great if there was some sort of visual unity between all groups, for example men in suits seems to be the uniform for those making the cuts.
The different parties and campaigns present didn't go all People’s Front of Judea. Everyone still represented their group through balloons, placards and banners. It was great to see, kinda like when all the different creatures fought together in Lord of The Rings.
The march kicked off to McFadden and Whitehead’s ‘Aint no stopping us now’ – Personally, I would have preferred Redman’s ‘Smash Sumthin’ myself. But yes it was great, a lot of fun actually but also peaceful, calm but still very powerful. It was really heartwarming to see everyone come together and be passionate about a very worthy cause.
I will definitely be attending another. Even if the changes are small and slow what it does do is help you see very clearly that you’re not alone in your opinions and also show non-attendees and the political powers that there are many, many people who believe in this. I can no longer say it doesn’t make a difference because even if only 200 people rocked up that would still send a very clear message.