Top Trumps: Friends of the Earth’s top tips for first-time demonstrators

The demonstrations against President Trump’s visit to the UK are likely to attract hundreds of thousands of people. For some this will be their very first march, while there may be thousands more who would like to join demos but may be nervous or unsure about it.
  06 Jul 2018    |      5 min

From pinning down a meeting point to bringing snacks for the march, Friends of the Earth has pulled together the top tips for the first-time demonstrator - pooling knowledge from over 40 years of campaigning experience.

Check out the Friends of the Earth one stop protest pack; which includes printable placards, practical information for those planning to attend the rally against Trump, and more

  1. Bring a friend. It’s always less scary with friends. Demonstrations are peaceful, welcoming atmospheres but pairing up with a friend with more experience or bringing along a fellow first-timer is a great way to boost your confidence ahead of your first march.
  2. Wear comfortable clothes. To make the most of your experience you’ll want to stay for several hours, so you won't want to cut things short because of rubbing shoes! Keep the unpredictable UK weather in mind; bring sun cream for a heatwave and a packable raincoat for downpours.
  3. Snacks maketh the protestor. Demonstrations can be hard work, so keep your energy levels up by bringing plenty of snacks and water – in a reusable bottle, of course.
  4. Plan your exact meeting point. Demonstrations are busy and the dense cluster of people can lead to weakened phone signal. Travelling with your friends is the best way to ensure that you’re together from the outset. If you're meeting people there it's better to choose somewhere a bit further away from the gathering point and then head over together - it's hard to find a familiar face in a massive march. Also take your pal with you if you have to break off the march route to use the toilet, as they may be hard to find again.
  5. Identify the issue, or issues, which mean the most to you. From racist policies and a complete disregard for the environment, to misogyny and attempted silencing of the media; Trump has been hugely successful in giving pretty much everyone a cause to demonstrate against him. This means there will be many different “blocs” at the demonstration – Friends of the Earth will be part of the environmental one. If there is particular issue you're most interested in make sure you join that bloc.
  6. Get creative and colourful. If you have the time beforehand, go to town on a placard! From creative wordplay to bold colours, placards are what form the most memorable images from demonstrations. Not to worry if you’ve not got the time though, you can pick up materials from organisers; and at the end of the day it is your presence and voice which matter the most.
  7. Come ready for fun. There are usually bands, choirs and musicians that come to demonstrations so get ready to dance as well as march!
  8. And be open to making new friends. Demonstrations are a great place to meet new people and make friends. Bring something to share with protesters you don't know yet. Anything from chocolates or satsumas to music or smiles; sharing with your fellow protesters will increase feelings of unity and lift everybody's mood.
  9. Embrace new ideas. With such a wide range of reasons to demonstrate against Trump, the demonstration will be a great opportunity to talk to other people about the issues close to their hearts and find out about amazing campaigns you never knew existed.
  10. Social media is a powerful tool. Posting to social media with the relevant hashtag is the best way of spreading the message as far as possible, especially among those who are unable to join the demonstration. That said, make sure you're present in the moment and not looking at a phone screen too much – you’ll want to make the most of your experience, and you may also struggle with signal.
  11. Be ready for what comes next. Marches are a great way to show how many people are resisting Trump and everything he stands for, but one march won't solve all our problems. Be ready to get involved after the march (you can have a sit down and a cup of tea first). From joining a campaigning organisation, writing to your MP, or just talking to your friends and family about the issues you’ve campaigned around - there’s lots you can do to keep the demonstration going.