Staff from De Montfort University joined hundreds of others in Leicester city centre to be part of a worldwide day of action against climate change.
DMU staff, friends and family before heading to the Clocktower
Protesters gathered at Leicester’s landmark Clock Tower to show their support for the young people who had organised the event before marching to a rally in Jubilee Square.
DMU supports action on climate change as part of its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and had told staff they were free to join the protests.
The university, which has been named one of the most sustainable universities in the UK, also ran a series of drop-in workshops throughout the day on campus, hosted by groups such as Friends of the Earth, to start conversations about how everyone can play a part in saving the planet.
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After a sign-writing session the staff – students are due to start back at university next week – walked together to the Clock Tower to be met by a huge crowd of people of all ages waving their own home-made placards.
Many teenagers had taken time off school to join the protest with mums and dads while younger children wrote their own messages in chalk on the paving stones around the Clocktower.
Crowds at the Clock Tower
Placards carried messages such as “Striking with these kids because I’m scared to have my own”, “Wake up and smell the flowers before they’re gone”, “We’re missing school because the adults are missing the point”, “Change the politics not the climate” and “The climate is changing, why aren’t we”.
Imran Mulla, who is in his second year of sixth form at QE College in Leicester, was a member of the young people’s protest group Climate Strike Leicester which organised the march and rally at Jubilee Square.
Imran said he was delighted the ‘grown-ups’ from DMU were showing their support.
In between introducing guest speakers such as Friends of the Earth and Shadow Health Minister Jon Ashworth to the podium, he said: “We are incredibly happy that DMU have sent their staff down here to show their support.
“It is vital we have solidarity and the support of adults. Their voice is instrumental in forcing change.”
David Hughes and Peter Hutchinson from DMU
DMU’s Professor of Education and Technology Richard Hall, who is also a rep for the University and Colleges Union, said: “Why am I here? Because we have a duty to the planet, a duty to our forebears and a duty to those who are going to follow.”
Andrew Reeves, a senior lecturer in DMU’s Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, said: “I think we, in relatively rich societies, owe it to the rest of the world to try and turn things around.
“Our lives are in the balance and if we do not do a lot in the next few years it may be too late, which is a terrifying thought.”
Louise Obara, a senior lecturer in Business, added: “I must say it was good of our interim Vice-Chancellor to allow us the time to join the protest.
“Having that level of senior support encouraging us is really great. It is inspiring to hear young people speaking in such a passionate, articulate and knowledgeable way. They put us old people to shame.”
The rally at Jubilee Square
David Hughes, a technical instructor for performance and events at DMU, was carrying a home-made banner which said “Your House Is On Fire”.
“As a large organisation in Leicester I feel DMU has a responsibility to support such big causes,”he said.
“I am grateful to DMU for allowing me to take part. I have children and I worry for their future. Ultimately, in 30 years, what state is the planet going to be in. It is really about our children and our grandchildren.”
Karl Letten, Environmental and Sustainability Officer at DMU, said: "The university has a proud history of promoting renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions and campaigning for climate change. We have had such a fantastic turnout to support Leicester schools and it's great to see them all here."
The protests have been held once a month since February, starting with a group of 30 and culminating in today’s protest which drew close to 700 people.
Posted on Friday 20th September 2019