Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Vedanta, Tampons, Roma, Monsanto & Mental Health

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

Vedanta, Tampons, Roma, Monsanto & Mental Health – there was a varied array of protests in London on Saturday 21st May 2016, and I was kept busy photographing them. Fortunately most were within walking distance of each other in central London, but I ended the day with a rally and march in Stratford.


Foil Vedanta at Jaipur Literary Festival – Royal Festival Hall, Southbank

I rushed from Waterloo station to the nearby Royal Festival Hall where I found campaigners from Foil Vedanta protesting against Vedanta’s sponsorship of the Jaipur Literature Festival. They say Vedanta, the most hated company on Earth, causing pollution, illness, displacement, poverty and deaths by its mining operations, sometimes criminal, in India, Zambia, South Africa and Australia, is attempting to whitewash its image by sponsorship of the festival.

They briefly interrupted a presentation in the main space of the Clore Ballroom to make their case. Earlier Foil Vedanta and Round Table India had sent an open letter to authors who had agreed to appear, signed by around 50 mainly Indian writers, poets, academics and activists, informing them of Vedanta’s criminal operations, and calling on them to withdraw, and some had done so, with others expected to criticize Vedanta in their presentations.

After the interruption the campaigners withdrew to the rear of the area where they continued to hand out leaflets and brief journalists, watched closely by security who insisted they keep the entrance clear but did not otherwise intervene.

More at Foil Vedanta at Jaipur Literary Festival.


Tampon tax now Osbourne! – Parliament Square

Campaigners met in Parliament Square and then marched to present a letter to Downing St calling on the government to fulfil their pledge to axe the tax on tampons. A massive campaign and lobby resulted in the removal of regulations preventing the removal of tax but it is still being levied.

Prominent in the protest were those from the 50:50 Parliament campaign for equal representation of women and men in Parliament who say that if there were more women in Parliament there would not be taxes like this – and much less of the public-school bickering that often dominates the House of Commons.

More at Tampon tax now Osbourne!


‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ Parliament Square

As the Tampon Tax campaigners left on their march to Downing St, four horse drawn vehicles arrived for the protest by Roma, Gypsies and Travellers against the hardening attacks against their way of life.

Heritage wardens and police told them it was was against bylaws to bring horses on to the square and after a short rally on the grass they led protesters in repeated circuits of the roadway around the square before leaving as the main rally on the corner of the square started.

Changes in the laws have allowed local authorities to stop providing traveller sites, and laws against fly-grazing have made finding places to stay and moving around the country much harder. Alterations in local planning guidance have meant that local planning laws have been used in a discriminatory fashion to prevent them using land even when they own it – as at Dale Farm. The ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ protest called attention to these attacks by the government on their ethnicity and demanded an end to 500 years of persecution.

More at ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’


March Against Monsanto Rally – Downing St

It was a day of several hundred world-wide protests against Monsanto, but there had been little publicity for the London protest and attendance for disappointing, and although there were good speeches these were to a small group of dedicated activists.

Among the listeners were a couple of bees and this cow

Monsanto dominates the worlds markets for seeds and agrochemicals at the expense of small scale farmers and communities around the world and is forcing harmful pesticides and genetically modified seeds on farmers in their corporate control of the world’s food system. The company has sued thousands of small farmers in the US and elsewhere to protect its patents which cover a wide range of crops and other products.

More at March Against Monsanto Rally.


Housing is a Mental Health Issue – Stratford

From Westminster the Jubilee Line takes a little over 20 minutes to get to Stratford Station, outside which I met Focus E15 housing campaigners who were holding a rally and march. It was Mental Health Awareness Week and they were protesting against Newham council’s policy of social cleansing, highlighting the mental health issues that arise from housing problems.

There is a huge boom in building around Stratford given great impetus by the 2012 Olympics, but as speakers made clear when the march paused in front of some of the the high-rise housing, this is being built largely for the rich – while those unable to afford sky-high market rents are being forced out. They say Newham is causing mental health problems for vulnerable people through evictions and placements with insecure tenancies away from families, friends and support systems in cities and towns across the UK.

Good homes on the Carpenters Estate have been kept empty by Newham for over 10 years

The new tall blocks also produce a hostile micro-climate at ground level, and when the march approached one of the most recent, gusts of wind tore one of the banners in two. The march ended on the pavement outside Wilco’s in Stratford Broadway, where Focus E15 hold their regular Saturday morning street stall.

More at Housing is a Mental Health Issue.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Homerton to Hackney Wick

Monday, May 9th, 2022

Homerton to Hackney Wick – This walk I made in October 1988 continues from where my previous post Morning Lane, Paint, Handbags and Printers ended.

Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-01-Edit_2400
Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-01

Immediately east of Mackintosh Lane on the south side of Homerton High St at No 178-84 was an unusual arched brick wall, which attracted my attention. Thistle House at 178-82 was a hostel with 33 rooms in multiple occupation. Part of the wall shown in this picture has now been demolished to allow storage of large rubbish bins. The wall goes in front of two distinct houses, both of which have one circular window – but in the joined house it is above the second floor window.

Barnabas Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-63-Edit_2400
Barnabas Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-63


Barnabas Rd runs south from Homerton High Street past Homerton Station. In 1988 the premises of printers Alan Moor & Co at No 24 was up for auction. It is still there and remains a handsome villa – my photograph doesn’t really do it justice. I suspect it dates from around 1860 when Barnabas Road was called Church Road, (it was renamed in 1936) but can find no details. The rather ugly porch has I think been extended since 1988.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary & St Dominic, RC, Church, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-64-Edit_2400
The Immaculate Heart of Mary & St Dominic, RC, Church, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-64

Originally called the The Church of the Immaculate Heart and St. Dominic it was designed by C A Buckler and built on what was until 1939 Sidney Rd two years after a mission was founded here in 1873. The church, completed in 1883, was badly damaged by bombing and fire in 1941 and was rebuilt in 1955-57. My picture shows it with shops on the corner of Wick Rd, where there is still an Indian takeaway.

Hackney Hospital, Homerton High St, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-65-Edit_2400
Hackney Hospital, Homerton High St, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-65

I went up Kenworthy Road back to Homerton High St, stopping on the corner of Ward Lane to make this picture of the East Wing of Hackney hospital, which I think is Pavilion B, built in 1880-82, designed by William Finch, a typical design for the time with long airy ‘Nightingale Wards’ and towers at the corner containing sanitary facilities. (I stayed on a similar ward in a south London hospital in 2003 just before it was demolished – and collapsed in the disconnected sanitary area after an operation, fortunately in reach of the red emergency cord which I came around sufficiently to pull and bring medical staff running to my aid.) Although Hackney Hospital closed in 1995, parts are still in use for mental health services and a notice calls this the John Howard Centre, which provides low and medium secure mental health services for North East London.

Shops, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-66-Edit_2400
Shops, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-66

These buildings are still there at 201-205 Homerton High Street, though in different hands. Back in 1988 a Bookmakers next to a Turf Accountant (a rather upmarket term for the same thing) seemed excessive, while F A MURRELLS business was completely hidden by shutters. It seemed to be some kind of miniature business, the whold width of the property perhaps around 7 ft with a tiny door only suitable for a slim child in the shutters. Whatever was going on inside – or rather had once gone on inside – obviously involved something of some value, worth protecting with an AFA Burglar Alarm, perhaps a jewellers or pawnbrokers? But this tiny shop had obviously been fairly recently sold – and now appears to be a residential property.

The Adam & Eve, pub, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-51-Edit_2400
The Adam & Eve, pub, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-51

There has been an Adam & Eve tavern in Homerton High Street since at least 1735, but its fine frontage is dated from 1915 and was recently restored. Its cream terracotta front includes a large relief showing very chastely the couple before the fall but underneath an apple tree. In 1988 it was a Taylor Walker pub (though Taylor Walker had been taken over and closed in 1960), now it is described as a gastro-pub, with fresh food from the farm daily and offering “CURING – MICROBREWERY – ALLOTMENT”. The Taylor Walker pub sign was rather better and had above the field gun that came from the Clerkenwell Cannon brewery they took over in 1929.

East Cross Route, Hackney Wick, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-55-Edit_2400
East Cross Route, Hackney Wick, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-55

The East Cross Route was a part of the disastrous Ringways plan for concentric motorway rings around London. This was one of two major parts of the of the innermost Ringway 1 which actually got built between 1967 and 1973. The cost and environmental devastation caused by the building of the Westway in North Kensington led to a huge backlash which led to the cancellation of the remaining parts of the scheme.

The East Cross Route was less controversial, partly because it was in East London and most politicians and others didn’t much care about what happened there, but also because it largely replaced an existing rail line which had long separated the communities on each side. For much of its length there was in any case little between the road and the natural boundary of the River Lea and the Lea Navigation.

There were relatively few roads which ran across the area, and the links across the new road were maintained with both Wick Lane and Wick Road still leading to Hackney Wick. Olf Ford Road no longer led to Old Ford, except by a footbridge, but for vehicles the detour was relatively short. The bridge I was on when I made this picture carries a footpath across Victoria Park from Cadogan Terrace to Rothbury Road in Hackney Wick. The Trowbridge Estate built in 1965-9 had 7 rather striking 21-storey tower blocks. Demolition of these had begun with Northaird Poiont in 1985 and all had gone by 1996.

The final post in this series, appearing shortly, will include my pictures from Hackney Wick where my walk ended.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Pussy Riot, ATOS, Scientology & Stand with Brad

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Pussy Riot, ATOS, Scientology & Stand with Brad
January 16th 2013 was an unusually busy day for protests in London on a Wednesday, though not all were quite what they seemed.

My working day started a short walk from Notting Hill Gate station, where a small group of protesters had come to take part in an International Day of Solidarity with Maria Alyokhina, one of the three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who were sentenced for their performance of an anti-Putin “punk anthem” in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral the previous February.

Alyokhina was sent to serve two years in a prison camp at Perm in Siberia, one of the Soviet Unions harshest areas and was appearing in court that day to plea for her sentence to be suspended so she could raise her son, born in 2008, until he is 14.

She was kept in prison until 13th December 2013 when she was released under an amnesty bill by the Russian Duma, and since has continued her political activism, suffering further arrests and assaults. Last year – 2021 – she served two 15 day prison sentences before being put on a year’s parole.

The protest on the main road close to the Russian Embassy which is hidden down a very private street was scheduled to last three hours, and had got off to a slow start, with some of those arriving deciding to go away for coffee and come back later. Numbers were expected to rise later, but I couldn’t wait as I was due at another protest at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.

I arrived at the vigil at the Royal Courts of Justice to find there was also a second protest taking place. I had come to meet disabled protesters who were supporting a tribunal hearing of a judicial review of Work Capablility Assessments on the grounds they violate the Equality Act as they are not accessible for those with mental health conditions.

Those taking part included members of the Mental Health Resistance Network, MHRN, Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC, Winvisible, Greater London Pensioners Association and others, including members of the Counihan family and PCS members who work at the court.

Speakers at the rally reminded us of the special problems with the Work Capability Assessments for many with mental health conditions, as these are often spasmodic. On good days claimants may not seem very ill and seem fit for work, while on bad days they may be unable to attend an assessment and for this reason be automatically judged fit for work.

Their press release included the statement:
‘Dozens of disabled people are dying every week following assessment. Nearly 40% of those who appeal the decision to remove benefits have the decision overturned, meaning thousands of people are wrongly being put through a traumatic and harrowing experience needlessly. The governments own appointed assessor of the policy has ruled it ‘unfit for purpose’… This would not be acceptable in any other government contract, yet goes without comment or sanction by this government. No-one is called to account, no-one takes responsibility.’

Also protesting outside the courts were the ‘Citizens Commission on Human Rights (United Kingdom)’ who claimed that a child who has never been diagnosed with any mental illness was being dosed with a dangerous anti-psychotic drug prescribed by a psychiatrist. Wikimedia describes the group as ‘a Scientology front group which campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatrists’ and was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology.

The court backed them in the particular case concerned, though most of the information about it was confidential and the court decision may not have been confirmed by the family court.

Among those taking part in their protest was a man in a white coat at the protest holding pill bottles representing the drugs they described as redundant and unscientific and instead promoting the benefits of ASEA, which appears to be an unscientific scam, promoted by dubious means. Basically salt water, the web site ‘Science-Based Medicine’ concluded: “The only value of the product is the entertainment value that can be derived from reading the imaginative pseudoscientific explanations they have dreamed up to sell it.”

Finally I went to Grosvenor Square for a protest outside the US Embassy where protesters, including members of ‘Veterans for Peace’, were holding a vigil in solidarity with Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, on day 963 of his pretrial detention while his defence argued in court for charges to be dismissed for lack of a ‘speedy trial.’

They stood holding placards in silence while the audio of a 45 minute video, ‘Collateral Murder’ allegedly leaked by Manning to Wikileaks was played on a PA system. The video clearly shows US forces committing war crimes and has become a symbol of the need for Wikileaks and ‘for courageous whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning.’

The protest was one of a series organised by WISE Up Action, a Solidarity Network for Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and after the vigil at the US Embassy many of those taking part were going to the daily vigil outside the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange was then inside having been granted asylum and under threat of arrest by British police should he leave. But it had been a long day and I decided it was time for me to leave for home before ‘Collateral Murder’ finished playing.

More at:
Stand with Brad at US Embassy
Stop Psychiatry Drugging Kids
Equality Protest Against ATOS Work Assessments
Pussy Riot London Solidarity Demonstration


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


16th January 2013

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

Probably the best way to describe my work on Wednesday 16th January would be varied, and that’s one of the things that attracts me to photographing protests on the streets of London. I was never quite sure what I would find or what would happen, and every protest brought its own problems in terms of photography, and also sometimes in how to write about them.

I started the day with Pussy Riot, or rather with protesters in solidarity with them on an International Day of Solidarity with Maria Alyokhina, attending a court hearing today over her plea for her sentence to be suspended so she can raise her son until he is 14. She was one of three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot sentenced for their performance of an anti-Putin “punk anthem” in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral in February, and was sent to a prison camp in Siberia for two years.

I had expected rather more protesters than the small group I found there, as the case had attracted considerable publicity, but perhaps it was too early on a cold January morning to attract many. It isn’t either a very good place to protest, as the actual embassy is hidden away a few yards down a private road roughly opposite where protests (and photographer) are strictly forbidden. But I also left fairly promptly after the time set for the start of a protest, and numbers may have grown later.

Pussy Riot London Solidarity Demonstration


There were more people, including quite a few that I knew, at a rally outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. Many were disabled, with a few in wheelchairs, but more who have mental health conditions, along with a number of pensioners, trade unionists from the court branch of the PCS and other supporters and the protest was organised by disabled activist groups including DPAC and the Mental Health Resistance Network.

Inside the court a tribunal was hearing a judicial review into Work Capablility Assessments on the grounds they violate the Equality Act, not being accessible for those with mental health conditions, and several of those speaking at the rally had personal stories to tell of how they had suffered as a result.

Mental health conditions are often spasmodic, which may result in claimants on a good day not seeming very ill and on a bad day being unable to attend an assessment – which results in them being automatically judged fit for work. Few of those carrying out the tests had sufficient knowledge and experience in the area of mental health to be able to sensibly conduct the assessment, and medical records were often not taken into consideration.

It seems totally ridiculous for benefits which people need because of their medical conditions not to be assessed on the basis of reports by the doctors who have examined and know their patients, but we have a system that instead tries to deny benefits on the basis of often arbitrary ‘tests’ by unqualified staff.

Equality Protest Against ATOS Work Assessments


Another protest was taking place outside the courts, which I hadn’t been aware of, and it had a very different atmosphere which I found rather chilling.

There was something very organised about it, with people dressed in red and all the placards carefully printed and it lacked the kind of spontaneity. Although it was a protest against the use of drugs to treat mental illness, some of those taking part gave the impression that they had been drugged.

Drugs are certainly misused in the treatment of people with mental health issues, though I think there are occasions when they are an important part in improving people’s health. And certainly they are over-used as a way to avoid treating the real causes of some people’s problems which come largely from poverty, lousy housing and terrible jobs. But there seemed to be something very wrong in some of the assertions that were being made.

I hadn’t heard of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, and was not really surprised when I looked it up on the web and found it described on Wikipedia as ‘a Scientology front group which campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatrists‘ established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology.

And as I wrote when I put these pictures on line:

it seems unfair to dismiss all of psychiatry as their banner did as ‘Junk Science and Dangerous Drugs‘ and I find it impossible from personal experience to deny the existence of medical conditions such as depression – or to dismiss the utility of some drugs in the treatment of mental conditions.

Stop Psychiatry Drugging Kids