I was really fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Glasgow courtesy of Jubilee Debt Campaign who are campaigning for climate debt justice.
I travelled up to Glasgow during the day, arriving early afternoon. The train was packed and I got into conversation with a man from Keswick who was interested in the reason for my trip. Climate change has seen an increase in flooding in the Lake District and Brian told me how his son’s house has been affected twice in recent years.
I’d seen on social media that Woodlands Methodist Church, Glasgow, was hosting an exhibition relating to COP26 and featuring the work of All We Can. I’d told them I hoped to pop in and so the first person I met was Deacon Anita. It was lovely to catch up with Anita and share news of deacons in the Manchester and Stockport District. One of the older members of the congregation took me on a tour of the church, pointing out symbolism in the stained-glass windows and the newer embroidered pieces on the pulpit and communion table.
Also in residence for the week was icon painter, Basia Mindewicz; it was interesting to hear Basia talk about two particular pieces inspired by animals.
From Woodlands, I walked back into the city and found the train to take me to my accommodation in Garscadden, about 20 minutes from Glasgow Central. I’d arranged this through the hosting programme specially created for COP26 visitors. Jackie was a great host and the accommodation perfect. A real blessing and good company for the weekend. In an unfamiliar place I slept really well.
The rest of the Jubilee Debt Campaign team were staying in Edinburgh so we arranged to meet at the start point for the Fridays for Futures march in Kelvingrove Park. I got there really early and after a while realised that I was amongst the oldest people there! There were some really imaginative banners with punchy slogans – as well as a lot of noise and rallying calls. I met up with the team near the back of the march just before the whole assembly started to move. I was told to look out for the red umbrellas. Not difficult on a beautifully sunny day. Our umbrellas were decorated quotes from people in countries not officially represented at COP26, telling of the direct effect of climate change.
The noisy shuffle into the city centre was joyous and attracted onlookers, many hanging out of multistorey windows and joining in. Arriving at George Square we could hear Greta Thunberg but not really see her. The group decided a coffee was a priority so we did that before going to one of the fringe meetings to hear from a number of speakers.
The last action for the day was a shared curry with the whole JDC team. We asked about Nellie – the giant Loch Ness Monster JDC had had commissioned – who had been impounded by 50 police earlier in the week. Nellie remains custody but Heidi Chow (CEO of JDC) considered that via the publicity Nellie had already done her work!
At last – the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. I thought about friends back in Manchester assembling for action in St Peter’s Square. The rain in Glasgow, as forecast, was torrential and though I’d had my boots soled and healed a month before, my feet were feeling wet even I walked up the hill to the start of the walk. It started again from Kelvingrove Park but this time there were many many more organisations and individuals assembling in different parts of the park. I spotted someone I’d worked with in my last appointment and had a chat with him. A piper playing a lament, a stilt-walking Neptune and a pair of fish on a bicycle all took their place. I looked in vain for the rest of my group – red umbrellas clearly weren’t going to stand out in a crowd of 100 000 people on this dismal November Saturday!
Nevertheless, we made a noise, we made the news headlines, we caused those who watched to take note and we urged the worlds leaders to hear the voices of young and old, the cries of indigenous people, the injustice caused by climate change.
The walk was twice as long as on Friday and ended at Glasgow Green. By 4pm it was beginning to go dark so I walked back to see the parade behind me and found somewhere to have an evening meal. In doing so I found Glasgow’s statue of the homeless Jesus and sat with him for a moment in the quiet.
Returning to my host, we reflected on the day. Then watched Strictly!