Hundreds of people gathered to give a rousing send off to the crusade launched by a group of North East mums protesting against the “privatisation” of the NHS.
One of the organisers, call centre worker Joanna Adams, 41, said she was “totally taken aback” at the turn out at their starting point, Jarrow Town Hall in South Tyneside.
“There must be seven or 800 people here,” she said. “It shows how many people care about the NHS. It’s really moving. It shows the majority of people are decent human beings, not the self serving and greedy people some would have you believe.”
Those taking part in the ‘People’s March for the NHS’ are to follow the historic Jarrow Crusade route of 1936 when over 200 men – and local MP Ellen Wilkinson – marched to the Houses of Parliament to protest about the lack of work.
The march this time is in response to government legislation they feel is leading to the privatisation of the NHS.
At the town hall send off speeches were given by politicians, union officials and Lizi Gray, the great granddaughter of one of the original marchers.
“It was a lovely symbolic gesture,” said Joanna.
Then, to the strains of the Proclaimers song ‘I’m Gonna Be (500miles) which the Scottish duo “gave” to the campaign and is now being used as their signature song, they set off.
The group will actually be walking 300 miles and are due to arrive at the Houses of Parliament on September 6, in time for Prime Minister’s Question time that day.
The idea stemmed from a group of 11 Darlington mums who wanted to highlight the damage caused by the Health and Social Care Act which has led to the increasing privatisation of the NHS
“The idea was floating around for a while – it seemed such a crazy idea – then in March we decided just to do it,” said Joanna.
As the marchers headed on their first leg to Chester-le-Street with many of those who originally come to give them a send off actually joining in, she added: “This is what British values are. We’re generous, we care about equality and justice, something that isn’t acknowledged. There is such a thing as society.
“They talk about choice, well this is our choice. We want the NHS. We want public services properly funded. We own it and they have no business trying to take it away from us.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 Aug 2014