Members of Extinction Rebellion staged action outside York Hospital today (Tuesday) calling for Britain to build a fairer society after the pandemic is over.
They held up banners calling for ‘A New Deal For People And Planet’ and ‘Care For Our Carers’.
Held on International Nurses’ Day, the demo marked the launch of Build Back Better.
This campaign calls for “a new deal that protects public services, tackles inequality in our communities, provides secure well-paid jobs and creates a shockproof economy which can fight the climate crisis”.
Nine people took part in the York Hospital action, a deliberately small number to ensure social distancing was maintained. The group said they worked with hospital security to ensure they weren’t obstructing anyone’s way in or out.
Catherine Heinemeyer of Extinction Rebellion York told YorkMix the response was “on the whole favourable”: “We got a lot of interest from people passing by in cars and walking by at a distance.”
She said health workers were dealing with “an awful lot of dreadful stuff” now and couldn’t join the action.
But a lot of them are “glad that other people are demanding these things on their behalf, because when more crises come – which they unfortunately will because of the environmental destruction that exists – they want health services to be ready.
“They don’t want them to be underfunded next time.”
Catherine said the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has seen a significant shift in attitudes.
“People have had an experience now of how important solidarity is. And what kinds of work and values we actually all really prioritise.
“We’ve seen that both people and government can make really radical changes really quickly when they decide that’s important. So we can’t believe anymore that the economy we had before was the only one that was possible.”
The Build Back Better campaign demands that any coronavirus recovery plan should be built on five key principles:
- Secure the health of everyone in the UK now and into the future.
- Protect and invest in our public services.
- Rebuild society with a transformative Green New Deal.
- Invest in people.
- Build solidarity and community across borders.
“There’s incredible convergence of views now across a really wide political spectrum. Opinion polls as well show that the vast majority of people don’t want to go back to ‘normal’ as such.
“They want to go forward to something better and different.”
Catherine said people in York have experienced what it’s like to have a more communal spirit, and less pollution, because of lockdown.
The experience has shown that “we are intertwined with each other and we’re interconnected with nature, that we need nature and we need to look after each other. And that’s what true resilience is in society.”