NFPB member Phoebe Spence writes…
Friday 21st April 2023 was the first day of the four day action taking place outside Parliament organised by XR with many other groups including Quakers joining in. It was the first big test of their new approach to action being more inclusive, accessible, no arrests etc.
Several hundred Quakers gathered at Westminster meeting house, with the meeting for worship overflowing onto St Martin’s Lane outside. We then lined up with our many brilliant banners to take a meditative walk to the Foreign Office where we would hold a people’s picket. Some of us from Manchester stood outside for a while, then walked past the Cenotaph with our banners to join XRPeace who were outside the Ministry of Defence. It was marvellous to meet old Friends and new. There were people and banners surrounding the statues of military men, and workshops taking place. The people’s pickets leafleted when staff were going into and leaving these austere government buildings.
Meanwhile there were also samba bands, choirs and assorted colourful street performers walking round the central government offices that activists were picketing. After a peaceful rest in St James Park, we went on to HM Treasury where Caroline Lucas spoke, then a street theatre group gave a splendidly apt performance aimed at the Treasury, with some beautiful costumes.
Having passed Christian Climate Action, who were on the edge of Parliament Square, we met with other Quakers outside Westminster Abbey, who initiated a Meeting for Worship on a nearby traffic island, towards the statue of Nelson Mandela. It was the most extraordinary meeting for worship I’ve ever been at, surrounded by traffic, but passers by stopped and appreciated the stillness. All in all a worthwhile busy day.