Parents rise up: Sheffield Green Parents to hold climate protest this month

Sheffield Green Parents say we are not listening to experts or doing enough as the group plans to hold a family friendly protest march on 12 May.

Particular focuses of the group are for Sheffield Council to aim to make the city carbon neutral by 2030 instead of 2050 as well as taking steps to improve air quality in the city.

The group are hope the protest will be peaceful, safe and inclusive; showing the council their concerns through the numbers in attendance. Making sure the atmosphere is family friendly and safe for children is important to Sheffield Green Parents.

Rachael Smith, co-founder of Sheffield Green Parents, says that a positive environment is needed for parents with young children hoping to voice their concerns.

“So one of the things we said when we initially said this was going to be a protest was that we needed to create a space for all those people who have seen and heard about the other protests going on around the country but don’t feel comfortable going with a small child.

“We assumed there would be a very large proportion of parents in Sheffield, that were going to be sat at home thinking ‘I agree with everything that Extinction Rebellion are saying, and the youth strikes as well, but I’ve got a small child strapped to me and I’m not comfortable going to a protest and not knowing if my child’s going to feel safe and happy there,'” she said.

“So what we wanted to do was create a space that was very child friendly and it is an opportunity for young children to have their say because they do have voices.”

Zoe Pearson, who works at Unwrapped and is involved with the group, agrees with this. She hopes the rally at the peace gardens will be non-confrontational, instead resembling a “mini summer festival” with dancing, music and entertainment.

Despite the group only being set up recently, they have managed to generate a large amount of interest in the group and the protest. The group are hoping to attract a large amount of people and currently have over 650 people who have registered their interest on social media.

Anna Parkin, who got involved with Sheffield Green Parents through social media, said: “I have three children and I feel responsibility to make sure they are living in a better world than what we have created and what we’re going to leave them with.

“We’re not listening to the experts and we’re not doing enough.”

Image taken from Sheffield’s ‘Youth Strike for Climate.’

Ms Smith co-founded the group as a space for parents of young children to get together and voice their concerns about the environment, hoping to pressure Sheffield Council into action.

Outlining their hopes for the protest, she said: “What we particularly want from this event is for Sheffield Council to meet with us and consult us and talk to us about our concerns.”

The group also believe there is a shared frustration amongst parents and young people due to a perceived lack of action from local and national governments.

Ms Smith said: “There are a lot of people who feel pretty helpless. I don’t think there’s many people who would say ‘yes we’d like to see the end of the planet’ but I think when you ask around a lot of people feel like ‘I don’t know what I can do’, but I think the tide is turning and I think the recent protests in London and Sheffield has definitely helped.

“In our personal life and in our family life we’re trying to do our bit to live more sustainably and when you’ve been doing that for a little while you get to the point where you think I need to be able to do more and it’s frustrating because I don’t know what else I can do.

“Lots of people are hitting that point where they feel they need to do more and are getting involved.”

Ms Pearson agrees with this; “It does feel like there’s that atmosphere, people are willing and almost desperate for something to happen and the frustration at the moment with the authorities not seeming to do anything quick enough and promising but nothing seems to happen,” she said.