24 Sep 2020
During this time, Friends of the Earth’s priority is to ensure the safety of our network and our wider society. We must take appropriate steps to look after those most vulnerable to COVID-19 – in particular older people and those with underlying health conditions.
In-person events and activities
As lockdown restrictions ease, you may want to resume face-to-face campaigning and organise in-person events. However, we strongly encourage you to continue holding your group meetings online for the time being and take particular care of your own and others’ safety if you organise any in-person campaign activity. We recommend you take extra precautionary measures such as wearing a face mask if possible at all times, to give your community confidence engaging with you.
We should exercise caution as official guidelines continue to evolve and differ from one area to the other. Please consider that some more vulnerable members of your groups and wider community may not be able or willing to participate in any in person events.
If you do decide to go ahead with any in-person activity it should be outdoors. Please follow all local and national guidance which applies to your area, this is changing regularly so we strongly suggest you keep checking it.
Note that across each nation – England, Wales and Northern Ireland – laws vary as to what meetings and gatherings can happen. In addition to this some areas within each nation have specialised restrictions – check for a list of these areas and details on restrictions. We ask that you adhere to local laws and follow them. Failure to do so could result in our public liability insurance being invalidated. As of 22 September the rules for outdoor activity by nation are as follows:
- In England only up to 6 people can meet outdoors while maintaining social distancing, though there is an exemption for ‘protests – if organised in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance'. Be mindful that many group activities will not fall into the category of ‘protest’ in legal terms and your group may be subject to a police fine if you contravene the guidance. Check the latest guidance in England.
- In Northern Ireland up to 15 people can meet in outdoors public spaces while maintaining social distancing. While the rule doesn't apply to gatherings 'for community, [...] or political purposes', please be aware that the 'organiser must have carried out a risk assessment which meets the requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000.' Check the latest guidance in Northern Ireland.
- In Wales up to 30 people can meet outdoors while maintaining social distancing. Check the latest guidance in Wales.
Please be aware that government is continuously revising these rules and you should refer to the relevant governmental website and specialised regional restrictions before planning any activity. If you feel the rules are unclear in relation to your activity, get in touch with us for support and advice.
You'll need to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and share it with a relevant regional staff member to ensure your group is covered by our insurance.
The coronavirus pandemic is requiring an unprecedented response from our NHS, essential services and government at all levels.
At the moment, the UK government and local governments - both elected officials and staff - are prioritising dealing with the immediate public health crisis. And we should allow them space to respond to the pandemic and support our communities.
Therefore at this time, we suggest that you campaign on issues that are urgent or that are of particular importance at this time.
For example, you may want to respond to emerging council plans that are concerning for the climate. Or you may campaign on timely issues such as demanding a green and fair recovery plan.
In all your campaigning, please keep in mind the strain many services are currently under. And make sure to communicate sensitively to decision makers and your own community.
How to talk about the crisis
We’re living in unprecedented times. While we want to continue as much as possible to campaign on climate, we must be sensitive in how we do that – and how we communicate it.
It’s been noted how in some places measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus have resulted in a reduction in emissions, increased air quality, and in some cases, the ability of nature to return to spaces.
However, it’s incredibly important that we do not celebrate these as so-called "benefits" of the pandemic.
Digital campaigning resources
Coronavirus will change how we campaign. We’re working to provide you with the tools, resources and support you need so that you can continue to hold meetings and plan campaigning work if you feel able to do so.
To start, we’ve gathered a list of some free tools to help you make the shift to campaigning online.
Now is an opportunity to show solidarity with other people and groups in our communities.
We know it’s a scary and challenging time. It’s important than you take precautions to look after yourselves and each other.
For mental health support, reach out to your GP, or contact Samaritans on 116 123.
If you are worried about losing money from venues that you’d previously booked please get in touch to see if we can support you with this.
And if you have any questions or a suggestion on how we can support you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org