An account of the recent austerity march

I was recently contacted by Megan, a passionate Bishopston resident who would like to share with you her account of the recent austerity march she was involved in organising, that took place in Bristol town centre.

Bristol-Protest-article-3Looking back on Wednesday’s march against austerity in the city centre, I feel overwhelmed, relieved and hopeful. These are words I haven’t been able to use since the general election. Days later I am still overwhelmed by the amount of people who turned up to support our cause, relieved it stayed peaceful and hopeful that our voices will be heard.

This story starts on a Saturday night, when a Twitter conversation between friends about the media black out regarding the London protests, and the selection of our new Conservative ministers led to a Facebook event attracting 4.1k people to demonstrate against the welfare cuts the government are proposing, almost overnight. If you were ever doubtful of what 7 young women from Bristol could do with 72 hours notice, well now you know.

march1Of course, we weren’t expecting the amount of people to come that had accepted the invitation on Facebook, so the fact that the final head count was around 5,000 was simply an incredible sight to behold. All the organisers, myself included, are aged 17-19 we have not been on many protests before and were unaware of what to expect. Difference of opinions were expressed explicitly on the Facebook event, so we had no idea what to expect from the people who would join us. I think that’s why I am still in awe of what happened on that gloriously sunny afternoon. The atmosphere walking up Park Street was like nothing I have ever felt before. I was a bag of nerves, but had a strong, underlying feeling that this was going to something incredible. And I was right. People of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds walked together peacefully for something they believe in, and I believe there is no better feeling than being a part of that. This was when, for the first time since the election, I felt hope. I felt supported and I felt like I was not alone.
Bristol-Protest-article-2Bristol, especially Bishopston, is a red spot in a sea of blue when it comes to elected MPs, which is probably why our demonstration was so successful. It was clear from talking to the crowd that they wanted to let our government know that the welfare cuts, the privatisation of the NHS and many more issues are not what they voted for. For anyone wondering what the point of it all was, we say that David Cameron needs to know that we will not take his actions lying down. We do not want to to live in a Britain where the gap between rich and poor gets wider and those on lowest incomes struggle to feed their families. We will not stand by whilst benefits for the most vulnerable are cut yet the top 5% get richer. There are other ways to cut the deficit than this.

However, this is not the only action we are going to take. As well as raising our voices and trying to get our opinions heard, we want to go out into our community and help those most vulnerable, most affected by the cuts already implemented, and scared of those to come. We want to help homeless shelters, women’s shelters and food banks as we are all too aware that the demand has increased so much that nobody is coping.

We would like to ask for you to follow our Facebook group ‘Bristol Against Austerity’ so you can help us in any way you can.

For a group of women all in the middle of finishing their A levels, this whole experience has been astounding and eye opening. Even though we have to take a short break to focus on exams, you can be assured that we will be coming back in full force and soon as summer starts.

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