After the sudden closure of Bootham Park hospital and therefore cuts to vital mental health services in York, Mental Health Action York (MHAY) was formed. Working side by side with the People’s Assembly we organised a successful march and rally on May the 14th to increase awareness and express public support for the reinstatement of mental health services which were so suddenly and cruelly taken.
The March got a wide press coverage including ITV Calendar and BBC look north. We had some great speakers including Len McCluskey and York Central MP Rachel Maskell who said “It is so important that we are standing up for not just the one in four people who experience mental health challenges, but the one in one who could be affected by them. It’s vital that we put this marker down today that we need quality mental health facilities in York.” Also Bob Adams, a founder member of MHAY and a retired consultant psychiatrist spoke out and said “York has been particularly hit with the closure of Bootham Park Hospital when we lost all of our adult beds at just five days’ notice. We want to raise attention to this and make sure that the residents of York have a say in how services are developed in the future. In my time I have seen the peak of mental health services and now the decline, which is very bad.”
As People’s Assembly we wanted to say thank you to everyone who made this possible and let’s keep up the good fight.
At 5:15 on the 17th June 2016 a group of supporters gathered in front of St Michael le Belfrey Church, York to demonstrate support for the cars, goods and money travelling from York in the hope of reaching Calais on the 18th June. Speakers from York City of Sanctuary, Refugee Action York, York Stand Up To Racism, York Trades Union Council and the organisers York People’s Assembly, along with the Lord Mayor, Councillor Dave Taylor who had attended with the civic party.#
It had been hoped that Rachael Maskell MP would attend but the murder of Jo Cox MP the previous day had left her upset and unable to attend. In honour of Jo Cox Graham read out a speech on refugees that Jo had made to Parliament. The Lord Mayor spoke of York as a city of sanctuary and his pleasure that York was joining the convoy to Calais.
We all wish our comrades a safe journey to Dover, and the hope that the French authorities let them through to the camp and refugees. We will, no doubt, be holding a meeting on their return to York.
In the run up to the EU referendum we’ve heard every kind of claim and counter-claim by the official Leave and Remain campaigns. The truth is, both sides are being led from a right wing, committed to building up the power of an ever-shrinking elite. But who’s going to discuss our interests in the debate? Will being in or being out deliver a more humane society?
On Tuesday 6th June York People’s Assembly gathered together a mix of social justice, workers’ rights and environmental campaigners to discuss what would make a better world. This included War On Wants’ John Hilary and Left Leave campaigner Maxine Bowler to represent the Leave side. Whilst Green Councillor Lars Kramm and ‘Another Europe Is Possible’s Michel Chessum putt the case for Remain. Thanks also to the more than fifty people who came to take part, rather than staying at home at listening to David Cameron and Nigel Farage on television. Sally chaired the meeting and introductions were made by Chris and Jane outlining as well the York arm of the Convoy to Calais on June 18th, along with a request for funds for that, and to pay for the room and expenses.
York People’s Assembly is not taking a position on Leaving or Remaining – doing so would undermine the diverse spread of passionate people who make up the group. We wanted to create the possibility of a fresh debate on new terms.
Whilst the debate was open and maintained a civility throughout it was accepted by all the speakers that the racist elements in the public debate were fuelled by concerns over immigration, and that this needed to be debated by the left. However all speakers considered that immigration had always existed and should continue to happen but this was marred by the neoliberal 1% seeking to exploit workers, whether in country of origin and at their destination.and using them as scapegoats for austerity.
York People’s Assembly’s ‘We’ve Got No Trust Fund’ appeal this week brought in an incredible £550 in online donations in 48 hours. Unlike Cameron, we’ve never benefited from a trust fund squirrelled away in a tax haven. Many thanks to everyone who gave – we’ll be able to go on campaigning for months to come. The appeal page is still open for more donations, should others wish to contribute.
Amongst the crowd of thousands, York People’s Assembly were represented by a full coach – and a mobile sound system. Along with friends in Scarborough and Thirsk, we headed to London for the Health, Homes, Jobs and Education march. Estimates on total numbers vary wildly from 50 to 150 thousand. Whilst the rally took place in 18Trafalgar Square, hundreds of protesters made their way to Downing Street. Continue reading
The recent waves of strike action by Junior Doctors across England have seen large picket lines at York Hospital, with up to 100 strikers and supporters on a single day. Amongst the support shown, cavalcades of City Council vehicles and even a visit from a local fire engine. Local BMA members have held ‘meet the public’ events in town and volunteered to teach first aid and baby life-saving courses across the city.
We’ll be joining the pickets at York Hospital again on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th April from 8 to 11am. York People’s Assembly member Chris Brace explains: Continue reading
Back in February, a few of us travelled down the Trident Demo in London with members of Doncaster people’s assembly. As these long coach journeys are usually rather tedious, it has usually been a tradition to break it up, as it were, with an ‘open mic’ session. Representatives from various groups are invited up to talk about campaigns going on in their respective cities. One of the people who really stood out was Louise Harrison, who spoke eloquently and passionately about the campaign to save Doncaster women’s aid. Continue reading