XR Families and Mothers Rebellion

Mothers’ Rebellion Circle in South Shields

On Sunday 17th September, 2023, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, daughters, caregivers and allies gathered to create a circle together in front of South Shields Town Hall, as part of a global demonstration organised by Mothers’ Rebellion. Around the world, people gathered throughout the week to express their desire for meaningful action towards the goal of an equitable global community living on a thriving Earth.

The event was on the front page of the South Shields Gazette, with a long article in the newspaper.

These women, caregivers and allies from across the North East sat peacefully for an hour in a circle facing outwards and holding handmade placards, to help themselves and others to connect with their strong emotions about the climate emergency. Their placards were all different and personal to them, with the names of their children or grandchildren, or another message related to the climate crisis and its impact on younger and future generations.

The demonstration was in collaboration with Divest Tyne and Wear who demand that our local authority pension funds stop investing tax payers’ money in fossil fuels. The location at South Shields Town Hall was chosen because this is where the Tyne and Wear Pension Fund meet. In order to stop burning fossil fuels, we must stop investing in them.  

Mothers’ Rebellion is a growing global community including groups in Germany, Sweden, Uganda, The United States and Zambia. Other Mothers’ Rebellion circles took place all over England including in Barnstaple, Exeter, Leeds, York, Bristol, Brighton, Oxford and London as part of this global event.

Passers by were invited to join in. This symbolic action was inclusive for those who care about children’s future regardless of age, gender or whether they have children of their own.

MarieLouise, a 40 year old solicitor and mum of 2, said “I’m here today because my heart breaks when I see the news stories from around the world on extreme weather events and climate breakdown. Other mothers are watching their children go hungry, losing their homes and forgoing any chance of a decent future. Until the Global North steps up to make the level of change required and provide the money needed for adaptation, children in countries that have contributed least to climate change will continue to lose their lives or face extreme challenges to just survive. I am furious that in the Global North, we continue to prioritise protecting a system that has extracted wealth from the Global South for its success and now is falling so far short of paying back the minimum that is needed to protect lives right now and in the future. Added to this, we now have the racist Illegal Migration Act so that even if people are desperately seeking refuge in the UK, our solution is to shut the door in their face, even unaccompanied children. So as a mother, I’m here today to remind people of their common humanity and to think about whether this is the way we want to face the biggest challenge of our time or whether we want to step up and make the change that is needed.”

Helen, a grandma from Gateshead, explained why she took part in this circle, “I have four beautiful young grandchildren and when I think about what the world will be like for them growing up, I’m so scared about food shortages, lack of clean water, and of course, extreme weather events. I grieve for the lack of biodiversity that they will experience, as creatures and birds we take for granted will become extinct. Sitting in this circle will help me focus on my sorrow in a safe space, and hopefully encourage others to think about what is happening in the world.”

Karen, mother of two added, “I want to live in a world that is sustainable and peaceful. I am angry that our governments choose to issue new oil and gas licenses instead of prioritising our children’s future. For me, the symbolism of mothers all over the world joining together to express their sorrow for what we have lost, and their desire for a liveable future for the children they love, is an essential and wonderful thing to be a part of.”

Anne, a grandma from South Shields, gave her reason for being there too – “I’m here today for my 3 lovely grandchildren as I’m so concerned about what the future holds for them if we don’t take meaningful action on the climate and biodiversity crisis that is happening right before our eyes. I’m here as a public witness to all our concerns for all children everywhere.”

The previous Mothers’ Rebellion took place in May 2023 in Whitley Bay. Here are some photos from that day.

The next event is scheduled for November. More details will be posted here when the event is finalised.

Do come and join us in bearing witness to our concern for all living beings, now and in the future. All are welcome. If you’d like to find out more, email xrne.newcastle@protonmail.com .

XR Families North East

XR Families North East is part of the UK national group of XR Families. XR Families is a group of parents and carers deeply concerned about the climate crisis and what it means for the world’s children both now and in the future. This supportive community has come together to take action to address climate breakdown, both at national gatherings such as the recent Big One and locally at smaller gatherings. As parents, grandparents, carers and relations, we come together to act on behalf of those suffering climate breakdown now, and of future generations who will feel the effects of choices made today.

It is great to find a community of like-minded people who share our concerns and hopes for the future. Raising children is a privilege that we all share and look to include those children, however small, in shaping a positive vision for a better future for all. We support and encourage each other as we do what we can to create a liveable, just and sustainable world for generations to come.

If you would like to be connected with XR Families North East, email xrne.newcastle@protonmail.com with your contact details and someone will get back to you.