Going on a march is exciting. Its a great feeling to march with loads of other people for something that you all believe in. No-one ever changed anything through doing nothing!
When you first turn up to the march, it may seem quite confusing. Some people will be running around like headless chickens, but a lot of people will be just standing around not knowing what is going on. When it is time to get going, however, the word will pass on down the line, and groups will form up together; a lot of demonstrations will have stewards who can inform people where to go and where to march.
On most demos, there will be several themed “blocs” of people marching. For example, there are usually blocs for different unions, political ideologies, and local activist groups, and many more besides. You can choose to march with any of them that you agree with, or just stick with the group that you came with. No-one will mind!
Going on a march unsurprisingly involves a lot of walking. Because not everyone walks at the same pace, there will be a lot of stopping and starting as different groups gets too far away from each other, or traffic needs to use the road you are crossing etc. This is normal. There will be a lot of noise, as several groups will have brought their own soundsystems, being chanting, shouting, blowing whistles, etc. You can join in!
At the end of the march, there is normally a rally and a few speakers to remind everyone why we marched. There are usually food stands and places you can sit down – you can stay or you can go find somewhere else to take a break. London prices are high, so be warned.
Make sure that you have food, water and warm clothes with you – it can also be pretty miserable walking for two hours in the rain, so be prepared for foul weather! You don’t have to bring a placard or a banner, but you might feel a bit out of place if you are just walking along with your hands in your pockets. Often there will be people handing out free signs and placards that you can carry, but they’re usually bland and don’t get across why it is that YOU’RE marching.
Finally, enjoy yourselves! No matter how futile it may seem to others, or even to yourself at times, you are making a difference.
“If we don’t take a stand, and we don’t persuade a generation that they can change the world, it’s ours to lose.” – Michael Chessum, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
TUC National Demonstration 20th October