First-time demonstrators: Friends of the Earth’s top tips

The Global Climate Strikes in September 2019 are likely to attract hundreds of thousands of people, young and old. Despite the friendly atmosphere, it’s not uncommon to be nervous or unsure – especially if you’re a first-timer.
  Published:  14 Aug 2019    |      2 minute read

It’s time to stand with young people and demand emergency action on climate breakdown. Whether it's for an hour or the whole day, join us on 20 September 2019.

From pinning down a meeting point to bringing snacks for the march, we’ve pulled together the top tips for the first-time demonstrator – pooling knowledge from over 40 years of campaigning experience.

1. Bring a buddy.

Demonstrations are peaceful, welcoming atmospheres but pairing up with a friend or bringing your family is a great way to boost your confidence ahead of your first march.

2. Wear comfortable clothes.

Don't be forced home early by rubbing shoes! Keep the unpredictable UK weather in mind: bring sun cream for a heatwave and a packable raincoat for downpours.

Wearing matching clothing will also help you spot the members of your group easier – particularly helpful with kids. And if you want to print a custom slogan or your group’s name, you can do so easily in our shop.

3. Plan your meeting point.

Demonstrations are busy and the dense cluster of people can lead to weakened phone signal. Travelling with your friends or family is the best way to ensure that you’re together from the outset.

If you're meeting people there it's better to choose somewhere a bit further away from the gathering point and then head over together – it's hard to find a familiar face in a massive march. Also, take toilet breaks in pairs so you don't end up solo. 

4. Snacks maketh the protestor.

Demonstrations can be hard work (especially if you’ve got little ones on your shoulders), so keep your energy levels up by bringing plenty of snacks and water for you and your group – in a reusable bottle, of course.

5. Get creative and colourful.

If you have time beforehand, go to town on a placard. From creative wordplay to bold colours, placards are what form the most memorable images from demonstrations.

Not to worry if you’ve not got the time – at the end of the day it’s your presence and voice that matter most.

Climate March through London to demand real action on climate change
Credit: Ronnie Hall

6. Be open to making new friends.

Demonstrations are a great place to meet new people. Bring something to share with protesters you don't yet know. Anything from chocolates or satsumas to music and smiles, sharing with your fellow protesters will increase feelings of unity and lift everybody's mood.

7. Social media is a powerful tool.

Posting to social media with the relevant hashtag is the best way of spreading the message as far as possible, especially among those who are unable to join the demonstration.

That said, make sure you're present in the moment and not looking at your phone screen too much.

8. Be ready for what comes next.

Marches are a great way to show how many people care about the climate crisis, but one march won't solve all our problems. Be ready to get involved after the march (you can have a sit down and a cup of tea first).

From joining a Climate Action group, writing to your MP, or just talking to your friends and family about the issues – there’s lots you can do to keep the message alive.