The reception we received from Christian Aid marshals could not have been more frosty if the march had taken place at the north pole!! As soon as we arrived, they insisted that we march in our own group behind them, with marshals separating us from them!!!
This attitude towards us was a little strange to say the least, since we were only responding to their call to support them!! The CA website is fairly clear - "Take part in a local event", "Join the march" and "Come to a rally". We called the Birmingham CA office weeks before the event to clarify the situation.
"We are not members of Christian Aid, many of us are not christians, but we would very much like to join your march against climate change".
The clarification we were looking for could not have been more definate. We were very welcome and we should bring our friends. So we did. MVC even booked a stall at the rally - again there were no problems!!
On the day however, everything changed!! Despite the marshals best efforts to demote us to second class citizens, we spread ourselves amongst the other marchers, we proudly displayed our banners, we talked to people, we handed out leaflets and we shared our compassion for the planet and ALL it`s inhabitants.
Marshals then insisted that if we were to march amongst the others, that we would have to carry their banners/placards and put ours away!!!!! It seemed that nothing other than red and white `Cut the Carbon` placards produced by Christian Aid were welcome on `their` march!! Not likely, again we stood our ground!
When we arrived at Millennium Point, our stall had already been set up. Our stall was under a large gazebo alongside the Christian Aid stall. However, we didn`t retain this position for long! CA decided that they didn`t want us underneath their gazebo, so we were kicked out!!! Shortly after this, 2 police officers arrived and stood chatting to marshals. The inspector and sergeant walked up to the MVC stall(and only our stall, not FoE, CAFOD etc) and looked at all our leaflets and posters! What on earth did they expect to find???!!!
The whole event was sadly tiny in comparison to the 5,000+ people that had been expected. MVC members gave a considerable boost to the 300 or so already there, it`s just a shame CA failed to recognise that we were there to support them.
MVC suspect we were not the only group that received this kind of hostility from Christian Aid. It seems highly likely that more groups and a far greater cross section of society, would have joined the march had they felt welcome. What is perfectly apparent to us, is that the threat of climate change can only be dealt with effectively, when those with differing beliefs stand together, share knowledge and learn from one another. We all want to beat climate change, but doing so will mean opening our eyes and minds to the truth and making a few simple changes to our daily lives. There`s no better place to start than the adoption of a vegan diet!!
Learn more here http://www.viva.org.uk/guides/planetonaplate.htm