Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids

If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

December 16, 2016
5 min read

children protestingThis article is taken from the previous issue of Red Pepper, produced in partnership with The World Transformed – get a subscription now.

In 1983 the women of the Greenham Common peace camp encircled the military base holding up mirrors in a mass demonstration known as ‘Reflecting the Base.’ An estimated 35,000 women were involved in this protest and some continued living on the camp for years to come with their children. There was a feeling of cameraderie, safety and empowerment like never before. The camp itself had areas considered safe zones for children. Yet what the Greenham Common women taught the next generation of protesters was the power in being disruptive, of being an inconvenience, the importance of being in the public eye and drawing attention to non-violent protest.

The following year, the 1984-85 miners’ strike began. Women played a pivotal role and created a legacy for future generations. ‘Women came out from behind the kitchen sink, they came slow but they came – men were even more slow to recognise the power women had,’ explains Sandra, a founding member of Women Against Pit Closures. Women had to find safe places within the movement to demonstrate, as often they had to bring their children along. The picket lines weren’t always suitable but rallies and pit camps provided an opportunity: riding on banners, sitting between the struts, singing songs. Women and children became politicised through this shared injustice and struggle, and in doing so children found their own voice:

childrenprotest2‘Arthur says our mines must stay,
So listen please what he has to say
Here is a man who understands
If they close our pit
No more colliery band
Goodness knows what else will go
The right to work, which we all know,
Of course they could all take the dole
Never mind fight for coal
‘Could we really just sit back
Of course we can’t, our dads would be sacked
Living thro’ this long, long strike
Left us at Christmas without a bike
It doesn’t really matter tho’
Especially when the truth we know
Rather have nothing, then hold onto our pride
You’ve guessed, of course, we stood side by side
OUR DAD DIDN’T SCAB’

Nicola Cohen, ‘The Strike,’ from More Valuable Than Gold, a collection of poems by striking miners’ children.

The legacy of this experience was certainly one of empowerment and unity for the women involved. After the strike many went to work or back to education. But for families and communities affected by the pit closures and the loss of 200,000 mining jobs, the legacy was destructive.

‘Kids suffered because they lived in communities that were disintegrating. There were more mental health problems, domestic violence, drugs and landlords,’ reflects Sandra, who has spent her career in Wakefield as a social worker. But she warns: ‘It’s worse for you now. Back then they didn’t see us [women] coming. Once two of my comrades and I went to a factory who made components for the pits to ask if we could talk to the engineers about the miners – we expected a few but hundreds came out. It’s worse for you now. Back then the establishment weren’t prepared for us, they are now!’

Real pressure

When Jeremy Corbyn said at the Durham Miners’ Gala that ‘real pressure’ is about having money to feed your kids – to a single mum that resonates. Being politically active women and co-founders of Momentum Kids is a challenge to say the least. Attending meetings at the Momentum offices from our home in Stroud took money we didn’t have, childcare to arrange and was generally a logistical drain on resources. It wouldn’t be something we could sustain without the support we get. And if that is true for us, it is true for the rest of the two million single parents in the UK, of which 90 per cent are women.

If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, how will a space be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children? We don’t want to be an afterthought. We want to be fully integrated into the movement. That is what Momentum Kids is about.

Our aim is to provide a female-led, intersectional space where children can be empowered and understand their value, the value of democracy, the value of their civic engagement and the power they already have. We want to encourage curious, questioning children who will become pioneers in their own right. As Sandra says, ‘As a society we massively underestimate kids, what they can do, what they think . . . Engage them to join in, even the mundane things from stuffing envelopes to making posters – but then do something with it!’

Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette are co-founders of Momentum Kids.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show

The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi

Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh

With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook

‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali

Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.

Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent

Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art

Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs

Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox

Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole

Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part

Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper

Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s

Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach

Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.

Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead

Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee

Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power


36