On Saturday 18th May, more than 8000 Londoners came together, united in their love and respect for the NHS. To draw light on, and raise awareness of the issues surrounding the NHS with a range of streetwear and content was always on our agenda; the march gave us the opportunity to be around and hear from the people that are directly involved and feel the same way as us.
Following on from the Lewisham march, triggered by the government’s decision to downgrade and potentially close the hospital’s Accident & Emergency ward to rescue a different trust from bankruptcy, ‘Unite the Union’ brought together London residents, trade unions, medical professionals and campaigners to march from Waterloo to 10 Downing Street.
The 65 year old NHS is widely respected across the world, conversations with foreign nationals normally lead to some sort of compliment on the services, people are envious, and rightly so, they do a wonderful job. However, it is due to our government’s neglect that it is enduring this current state. The complex decisions made from the top, based on profitability, are directly affecting the staff on the ground, the patients, you and I.
The atmosphere during the entire march was incredible. A united collective, all in presence to play their parts in making a stand for what is right. Of course you are more powerful as a majority but only if that very majority is made up of individuals who all share the same passion, commitment and belief in the cause. And those things were all clear to see and feel, in abundance, yesterday.
The large proportion of the crowd was made up of the older generations; as with so many social issues, it seems rather difficult reach out to the younger demographic, on a level that resonates with them. This is the very demographic that we wish to engage with artwork, photography and streetwear on these social and political issues which impact all of us but who wouldn’t normally take notice or responsibility. Whilst 8,000 protesters is a good start, we have to put this in to perspective with the actual number of people in London who use the NHS on a day to day basis – the numbers must increase for us to make a significant impact. The 16-35 demographic is vital in doing this.
If you have been fortunate enough with your health to not have needed to use the NHS, your attachment towards the issues will naturally differ from that of an NHS staff member working for 30 years or someone who has depended on nurses. However, witnessing some of the speeches given by staff members, patients and socialists, it would be difficult for even the most hardened individual not to get carried away in emotions by the hard facts and reality facing us if this proposed privatisation is followed through. A member of the Ealing Hospital staff for 25 years, provided an insightful message, “the NHS will live on as long as the good people have faith in its services.” It is certainly collective faith which can affect decisions. One courageous lady in her mid-eighties captivated the crowd by sharing her experiences working for the NHS and how she has seen multiple governments abuse the service for monetary gain. The phrase ‘you do not appreciate what you have, until it is gone’ is never more appropriate here. And so taking the NHS for granted, something many of us do, must stop. It is imperative to realise its integral place in our society; when your sister or son cannot be seen in A&E, don’t blame the two nurses dealing with 30 patients, they do not make the rules or distribute the budgets, question why it is this way. And question the powers that be. And take every opportunity to play your part, join the community uniting to fight for what is right, whether that be marching with thousands of others or by simply smiling and thanking the nurse that treats you, do not underestimate the power of your presence.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the proposed NHS cuts or on any other social issue which you feel needs to be addressed, you can find us at Ridley Road Market in Dalston, every Saturday…just look out for our flag.