Click here for link to the 999 Call for the NHS / Jarrow march website
March from Jarrow to Parliament Square
London, 16 August - 6 September Probably you have heard of this fantastic initiative, started by a group of mothers in Darlington (also known as the Darlo Mums). It is to recreate the historic Jarrow March of the great Depression - this time in order to save the NHS from the damage being done to it by the current government through privatisation and cuts. It is a fantastic expression of collective solidarity and support for the institution which cares for us when we most need it.
Help on the route
The organisers are doing a fantastic job but can always use a helping hand. The route is pretty much North-South between Jarrow in the North East and London, so you may live too far away to offer practical help, but if you are closer to the route there are all sorts of ways that you can help.
Please go to the website 999callfornhs.org.uk for the links to follow the route in detail. Each of the 23 towns where the march stops overnight has its own contact person (linked on the website) and they should be your point of contact if you are offering help, whether it is food, shelter, first aid, stewarding, local publicity or anything else. This is a fantastic campaigning opportunity and news will reach millions of people. Do your best to connect and get the message across that we need to Keep Our NHS Public.
Arriving in London
The last stage of the March is from Edmonton (on the northern outskirts of London) to Parliament Square in Westminster, a distance of 11 miles. The March leaves Edmonton Fore Street at 10:00am and is expected outside Parliament at 4:00pm. You are welcome to march from Edmonton if you want to, but the organisers are encouraging people to join the March at the Unite Building at 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN, near Holborn Underground station. The big KONP balloon will be carried from there. The March will move off from there at about 2:30pm and should reach Parliament Square at about 4:00pm.
The reason for asking most people to join at that point is that from then on there will be road closures and stewards. Before that the March will be on the pavement.
In Parliament Square, there will be a rally with speakers and performers to celebrate this great achievement.
Support the marchers
Do your best to support them by turning out to walk with them when you can, attending one of the many rallies that are due to take place at the overnight stops (see details by clicking the relevant button on 999callfornhs.org.uk), make a lot of noise in local and national broadcast media, and leaflet so that as many members of the public as possible get to know about this brave attempt to remind us all how important it is to keep the NHS public.
How the 2014 March began:
Seventy-eight years after the original Jarrow crusaders marched to parliament to protest against mass unemployment, a group of women, led by a call centre worker from County Durham, will retrace their steps to fight for universal, free health care. Andrew Musgrove reports
The original Jarrow to London march in October 1936 was a protest against poverty and unemployment in the north-east of England. This summer a group of 700 mothers will retrace their steps as part of a campaign called ‘The 999 Call for the NHS’ Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy
A group of County Durham mothers are set to follow in the footsteps of the Jarrow Crusaders and march to London in protest at the "privatisation" of the NHS.
The march, dubbed The 999 Call for the NHS, will set off in August from Jarrow on the banks of the River Tyne and finish at the houses of parliament, planning to arrive just in time for prime minister's questions on 6 September.
The walk will echo the Jarrow March of October 1936, which saw 207 people troop to London to highlight mass unemployment in Britain. It will stop in many major towns and cities across the country to allow people to join the protest, with organiser Joanna Adams saying people can walk as “far or a little as they like, nothing more, nothing less.”
Just a month after announcing the march, Adams says that over 700 people have signed up to take part in some or all of the 300 mile journey, demonstrating how excluded many people feel from politics.
“People are feeling ignored and feeling as if they can’t participate in politics and this is about enabling people to have a voice and to be part of something,” she said.
“This is a real people’s march... I’ve got two kids and work in a call centre – I’m doing this because I’m angry and I know lots of other people are angry too.”
Joanna Adams, a 41-year-old call centre worker, who will be leading a march from Jarrow to London later this year to protest against NHS "privatisation"
It's not the first time an attempt has been made to recreate the Jarrow crusade in recent years. In 2011, a group of young people marched to parliament to demand action on youth unemployment. It was harder than they expected, with numbers dwindling from at least 300 at the start to just 16 at the 60-mile mark, according to the Independent.
The decision to march this time comes in response to the government’s passing of the so-called 119 Clause of the Care Bill on the 11th March. This small print allows health secretary Jeremy Hunt to downgrade or close a hospital without consultation - even if it is performing to a good standard.
Adams, a 41-year-old mother of two from Darlington, claims the 119 clause contradicts a court ruling which labelled Hunt’s decision to downgrade Lewisham Hospital illegal.
"I don’t know what happened to ‘no decision without me’ but as far as I can see, the people of Lewisham won a court case saying their hospital couldn’t be closed down and in answer to that, this is what the government has done,” she said.
“It’s outrageous; it absolutely makes my blood boil. So we’re going to march all the way to parliament to tell them that we’re not happy with what they’ve done.”
The group are also upset at the report released by the think tank, Reform, which recommends that NHS users should pay a monthly membership of £10.
Personal experience has also motivated Adams. Both of her parents died from cancer, followed by her sister Sarah, aged just 44. In addition, her first child was conceived using IVF at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. She feels that it’s imperative that the legacy of free health service is protected for future generation: "As a mother I will not sit back, I will protect what we all have taken for granted; healthcare available irrespective of wealth. I will not let them take it away from my children. Not without a fight.”
All are welcome on the march, but Adams is particularly targetting other mothers. "As carers and mothers who access healthcare more, we feel the government policy has adversely affected us," she said. "The government and department of health keep saying NHS founding principles will not be compromised. Yet when services are being downgraded or closed down there is no choice but to make a stand. They say the principle on cost and ability to pay won't be compromised, yet 49% income can be generated from the private sector in our local hospitals and if a service is closed down you lose the right to access to free health care."
She insists the march is not an attack on the coalition government and warns the Labour party it will face the same pressure from the group to save the NHS: “This is about saying to any government: ‘This is our NHS. We made it, we paid for it, we own it, and we love and we will fight for it."
See the Darlington mums blogspot here: