Posts Tagged ‘children’

South Circular Protest

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

London’s air quality is a disgrace with around 2 million people living in areas which have illegal levels of air pollution. Academic studies suggest that there are almost 10,000 premature deaths every year due to the high levels of pollution, and huge levels of pollution related illness.

I can just about remember hearing at the time about the 1952 Great Smog in London, when visibility went down to around a foot and traffic simply had to stop. It was thought to have killed around 12,000 people and the severity led to a Clean Air Act that outlawed coal fires in the city – and we had to switch to Coalite and coke. The smog wasn’t quite so dramatic on the outskirts of the city where we lived, but it was certainly unpleasant, and wrapping scarves around your face if you had to go out wasn’t very effective. And even inside the house, the air wasn’t quite clear.

The air looks much cleaner now, though I still get dirty shirt collars from trips into the city, but the dangers are there if invisible. High levels of nitrogen oxides and other gases, as well as particles too small to be visible. And there are local hot spots around major road junctions and busy roads, often creating up to five times the legal limit for air pollution in Central London and around major roads elsewhere. Road traffic is a major factor in these illegal levels which peak at certain times during the day, particularly during the rush hours. Another peak occurs not far from where I live, around Heathrow and any airport expansion would bring extra road traffic to add to this as well as the pollution from more aircraft.

Boris Johnson when London Mayor failed to take any effective action, but under Sadiq Khan there have been some reductions, with a change to hybrid diesel-electric buses, regulations for new taxis to be electric and the setting up of Ultra-Low Emission Zones, currently covering the inner-city congestion zone, but withe a Low Emission Zone for heavy goods vehicles extending to a wider area of Greater London later this year.

The effects of air pollution and particularly bad for the elderly and those with pre-existing lung conditions who largely make up those who die prematurely, but also for children whose lungs and other organs are still growing and are stunted by pollution, with up to 10% lower capacity than those who live in cleaner air. Many primary and secondary schools in London are in areas with high pollution.

Parents in Catford in South East London whose children live and go to schools close to the South Circular Road are concerned for the health of their children and organised a march and rally calling on Lewisham Council to take bolder and faster action to reduce air pollution, particularly around schools.  Although Lewisham isn’t responsible for the high traffic levels on the route there are remedial measures that can reduce local levels of pollutants such as planting screens of trees and hedges which can drastically reduce the levels of minute particles in particular. Putting barriers on some roads near schools to prevent through traffic would also help. Better cycling provision and bus services can also help to reduce traffic and thus pollution.

More at Clean Air for Catford Children.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Groups were meeting around London on Earth Day to take part in the Global Climate Strike, and I went to two of them which I could travel to reasonably quickly by tube.

People were gathering outside the London College of Communication, part of the University of the Arts London, where a group had obviously been busy making Climate Strike posters.

A group left to march to Southwark Council offices on Tooley St to join up with workers there and were then planning to go on to join protesters in Westminster. I left the marchers as they went past the tube station to make my way to a rally in Windrush Square, Brixton.

Teachers had brought pupils and parents to a rally in Windrush Square and I arrived in time for the last quarter hour of so, including a short address by one of the local MPs as well as by some of the children and others.

I left as the rally ended and the organisers began to get everyone ready to take the tube to Westminster and join the protests there, making my own way to central London ahead of them.

More pictures at Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

BMX riders gathered in Leake At under Waterloo Station in the graffiti-covered tunnel to wait for the start of Santa Cruise 6, a charity ride by santas on BMX bikes raising money for a Children’s Heart Hospital by BMX Life, now in its sixth year.

With best wishes for Christmas and the coming year.

Kids march for more school

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Whatever is wrong with modern children? I just cannot imagine myself at primary school protesting at getting an extra half-day off school. We would have cheered.

Of course parents are likely to be upset. Having to find some way to look after their offspring on a Friday afternoon when in most families both parents will be at work. It must be bad enough having to make arrangements for the school holidays without this extra burden,

While I was teaching we did get the occasional day where school closed and we were sent home early, and I think we were generally rather pleased, particularly if it was a day when we were down to teach 3G last period. Though I suppose we might have got a little concerned if it were happening on a regular basis, and particularly for some of the classes who were nearing their GCSE or A level exams – and I think there were some times when these exam classes remained for lessons when others left early.

But now of course we have exams at every level, the dreaded SATs, starting in the May of Year 2, when children are only 7. Some schools add to the training in terror by making them take ‘optional SATs’ at the end of every year there isn’t a real SAT test (the next one comes for 11 year olds in Year 6.)

And teachers, particularly head teachers, are of course concerned about the results, as they place their school in the league tables. So concerned that although they only take place for a short period the SATs have come to dominate the whole year’s work in most of our schools. Schools that want to be seen as successful have had to change their whole ethos to “teach for the tests.” It shouldn’t be so.

It was of course a fiction that children were not tested before the SATs. At secondary level children came to us with the results of properly standarised tests from the NFER, tests that were adminstered with none of the anguish and stress of the SATs, which were used to diagnose a pupil’s needs and not to judge schools and which were considerably more useful and reliable, and were not the tail wagging the dog of the school.

As parents, we sent our children to the local schools. The primary school they both went to was a happy school and well run. It tried to continue that way when the SATs came in (fortunately after our children had gone on to the local secondary) but the results of the first year were miserable compared to the other local schools that had drilled their children for the exams from the start, and they were forced to change.

This protest, though I think driven by exam pressures, was not about getting rid of the exams but about funding. Schools have suffered under austerity, and those in the more difficult areas have suffered more than those with wealthier parents, though even those have problems. Parents associations which used to raise funds for extras are now having to do so for essentials, and parents in many schools are now asked for ‘voluntary contributions’ to our free education system. Though with various reforms by both New Labour and Tories we hardly have a system, more a mess.

This protest, like so many schools, was also funded by voluntary contributions, crowdfunding led by Labour MP Jess Phillips who also led the children along Whitehall to Downing St.

Give Me Five days


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Mothers’ Day March

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Apparently according to Mothers Rise Up, 95 countries celebrate Mothers’ Day on 12 May, (although in the UK we traditionally celebrate our mothers on Mothering Sunday in March, on the 4th Sunday in Lent, a rather more low key event.)

Or rather people celebrate Mother’s Day, as Anna Jarvis trademarked the event in 1912 saying it should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”

Jarvis had begun campaigning for a day to honour mothers after the death of her own mother in 1905. Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832 1905) had been a community activist and had established Mother’s Day Work Clubs in several West Virginia towns to assist and educate people to improve sanitation and reduce infant mortality and disease. During the US Civil War she had controversially insisted these clubs provide food, clothing and nursing to soldiers in need on both sides.

Mother’s Day in the USA rapidly developed, much against Anna Jarvis’s wishes into a commercial jamboree; she organised boycotts against sending mass-produced cards and gifts, urging people instead to mark the day and honour their mothers by writing them letters expressing their love and gratitude.

According to Wikipedia, Jarvis protested against the commercialisation of the event at a “candy makers’ convention” in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of the American War Mothers in 1925. The War Mothers were selling white carnations for Mother’s Day to raise funds, and this so enraged Jarvis that she protested and “was pulled away screaming and arrested for disturbing the peace.”

So it was very appropriate that Mothers Rise Up had chosen Mother’s Day to protest and “stand in solidarity with the #youthclimatestrikes” emphasising the urgent action needed to avoid disastrous climate breakdown, with scientists telling us we have only a few years to act. Perhaps as long as 11 years to take really decisive measures, although it may already be to late to prevent global human extinction. Already as they pointed out, people in parts of the Global South “are already suffering and dying as a result of climate chaos.”

Their call out for the protest began:

We will come together and rise as a maternal force to be reckoned with. With pushchairs and song, we will march from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square and demand that our government take immediate, drastic action for a just transition to a sustainable way of life.

I hope my pictures capture something of this “maternal force”, though the giant pushchairs did present something of a problem photographically. For once I walked with the protest the whole distance to Parliament Square (stopping off briefly to photograph another protest at Downing St) and stayed for a part of the rally.

One of the speakers there was the leading international climate lawyer and diplomat Farhana Yamin; I had arrived too late a few weeks earlier to photograph her arrest when protesting with Extinction Rebellion at Shell’s London HQ in April.

More pictures from the march: XR International Mothers’ Day March