At 11am on Friday 20 September, Bedfordians – including many school children and the town’s MP – took to the streets to protest against the climate crisis.
As part of the Global Climate Strike they joined millions of people around the world who left work or school for a few hours to make their voices heard.
The event was set up in 2018 by Greta Thunberg, who led the strike in New York City on Friday. The event in Bedford was captured by local photographer, Hazera Forth.
One of the Bedford organisers, Wootton schoolgirl Elise Patterson said, “The Youth Strike 4 Climate in Bedford went amazingly.
“Schools generally reacted positively and supportively to students who decided to strike with us on Friday, being impressed by their students taking the opportunity to use their voice.
“Being able to lead such a united group of children, teens, adults and families was an empowering experience for me. People were coming out of their shops and applauding in support as we marched down Bedford High Street. Everyone I spoke to throughout the day had at least one good thing to say.
“A moment that felt especially heartwarming to me was when we did something called a moment of unity. Everyone participating held hands in a very big circle to show their unity. We had a sound creator create a peaceful atmosphere once the circle was complete, then I read the demands of the Youth Strike and spoke about why we stand together.
“Standing in the middle of such a huge circle of people who had united together to create the future they want brought tears to my eyes. I have never felt such unity in my life.
“The strike was a complete safe space for all people, no matter age, gender, race or sexuality. The inclusive environment advocated the positive message we spread.
“People passing took pictures and complimented many people on what we are doing.
“It was such an amazing, united environment and I hope that it’s something I get to experience many times more.”
Bedford & Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin joined the protesters, saying, “It was great to spend a day with all those who gathered in Harpur Square for the Global Climate strike.
“Young and old alike – the message was clear to Government’s across the world: listen to the science and act to save our planet before it’s too late.”
Many schools were supportive of their students taking part, including Bedford Girls’ School. Marketing manager, Jemma Trobe told us, “We encourage the girls to use their voices responsibly to effect change and we did give permission to those that chose to attend the strike.
“As a school, we ran a day of events inspired by the Global Climate Strike, including discussions and lessons, and the sixth formers staged a demonstration outside the school.”
Susan Throssell Hunt, a parent of one of the strike’s organisers, said, “Fridays Youth Strike was a bittersweet moment for me as a parent.
“I was immensely proud to be part of the biggest youth led strike I’ve ever known in Bedford. I was privileged to be one of the few adults supporting the organisers and I can say they led the entire day with passion and thoughtfulness.
“There’s hope that their voices are being heard. However, it also comes with an extremely heavy heart that my 15-year-old daughter is consumed with worry about her future.
“This worry is so great that she is willing to come face to face with angry adults telling her she’s ‘skiving school’ or ‘wasting her time’.
“I want my daughter in school. My daughter wants to be in school. However she can also see no effective action on the climate crisis we are facing and has felt compelled to stand up and demand the adults do something. If we step up they can step down and go back to school.”