Defend our NHS! Defend our Education!
We have produced this activist guide to provide some advice and resources to help you get involved in this week of action.
In this guide...
- Introduction – why are we taking action?
- What can you do for the week of action?
- Starting a campaign from scratch: top tips
- Resources for the week of action
- What is the Student Assembly Against Austerity?
- Setting up a Student Assembly Against Austerity campus group
Introduction: why are we taking action?
This national week of action is about the student movement fighting back to save our NHS and education from the Tories’ brutal cuts. During this week students from all over the country will be campaigning to demand free, well-funded public services.
We heart our NHS
The Tories are cutting back on healthcare, privatising sections of the NHS and even closing down entire hospitals and A & E departments.
Student nurses are in the firing line. The Tories are scrapping the NHS student bursary which student nurses and midwives receive. Student nurses work around the clock to provide vital care for patients throughout their studies, and only receive a small bursary to help cover living costs. Now the Tories want to remove this vital financial support and plunge student nurses into £50,000 worth of debt. The truth of the matter is that its #BursaryOrBust for the majority of student nurses.
Junior doctors are in the firing line. The Tories are proposing a new contract, which will mean our already overworked junior doctors will be forced to work even more anti-social hours and risk the safety of both junior doctors and their patients. Junior doctors are striking back to defend our NHS and we should all rally to support them.
Attacking our future doctors and nurses is an attack on us all. It makes us all worse off and less safe. We depend on the NHS. This means we rely on health workers, doctors and NHS staff who are already overworked and under pressure because of Tory cuts. We stand united to defend our NHS.
We heart our education
The Tories have created one of the most expensive education systems in the world and they want to make matters even worse with huge cuts and privatisation.
The poorest students are under attack. The Tories are scrapping maintenance grants for students from low-income families starting from September 2016. This will burden hundreds of thousands of students with even more debt.
Our colleges are under attack. Deep cuts to further education will see entire colleges closed down and huge job losses.
Tuition fees are going to be pushed even higher. The Tories want to let universities charge more than £9,000 tuition fees by removing the cap – and they are going to allow the ‘elite’ institutions to increase fees first.
Our education staff are being pushed to their limits. The government’s plans will mean that their jobs will be put in the firing line.
We stand for free education – no cuts, no fees, no debt. Investing in education benefits everyone in society because it is an investment in our future.
We heart our trade unions
The Tories are attacking trade unions to weaken the fight back against cuts. Trade unions are a vital part of a democratic society – it’s because of trade unions we have a minimum wage, holiday pay and the weekend. That is why we support our trade unions and oppose the Tories’ Trade Union Bill.
What can you do for the week of action?
There is a huge range of activities you could organise on your campus or in your community for the week of action.
Below we have suggested some ideas for your campaign. If you want to discuss any of your ideas further then please feel free to get in touch with the Student Assembly Against Austerity on email@example.com.
Make links with NHS students
When planning your action make sure you get in touch with student nurses, midwives and medical students and invite them to take part and shape your actions. This week of action is a key opportunity to involve new students in the movement to fight cuts and it is important that those facing the brunt of the attacks are at the forefront of the fight.
Hold a public meeting
Public events on campus are a great way to get people talking about the issues and bringing new layers of students into the campaign. Why not invite your local MP to speak at a well-publicised meeting on campus alongside students, trade unionists, your nearest People’s Assembly Against Austerity group and Student Union Officers? If you’d like a national Student Assembly Against Austerity speaker to attend your event please get in touch.
Support the Junior Doctors strike
Junior doctors are fighting for a safe and fair contract, which has involved strike action. A national strike is planned for Wednesday 10 February – this may or may not go ahead depending upon how the British Medical Association’s negotiations with the government go. If there is a strike on Wednesday 10 February organise to show your solidarity by making banners and attending the picket lines.
Support student nurses walking out on #WalkoutWednesday
To coincide with the potential junior doctors strike, student nurses are preparing the ground for a national 1 hour walk out on Wednesday 10 February. Student nurse campaigners have written a model motion which you can pass through your Students’ Union in support the walkout.
Creative stunts to sound the alarm on campus
Get creative on campus – it is a great way to raise awareness amongst students on what the government is up to.
Here are a few ideas:
- Banner drops: an effective way of raising awareness in a high profile way. Choose somewhere prominent on campus and drop a banner with a clear message such as ‘Save our grants’, ‘Stop education cuts’, ‘Bursary Or Bust’, ‘Solidarity with Junior Doctors’ or ‘Save our NHS’
- Debt ins: a visual stunt on campus involving students laying under crushing levels of student debt, symbolised by red boxes.
- Valentines action: organise a ‘We heart our education’, ‘We heart our NHS’ themed action to coincide with Valentine’s Day
Campus protests and rallies
Call a protest somewhere prominent on campus during the week of action. Invite speakers to address the crowds and make sure you publicise the protest well in advance using social media, email, posters and leaflets. Let the local press know what you are organising to try and get some media coverage.
Target your local MP
Prominent politicians, such as Jeremy Corbyn MP, have been vocal in opposing the Tories’ attacks on education and the NHS. Use this week of action to put pressure on your local Member of Parliament to back the campaign. Whether its collecting names for a petition or organising a group visit to their local surgery – there are many ways you can get your voices heard.
Taking direct action on campus is a high profile and effective way to take forward the campaign. Contact the SAAA for advice on what you can do and the risks involved. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starting a campaign from scratch: top tips
- Try to organise a planning meeting ahead of the week of action to bring together students interested in helping out with the campaign. Put it out there on facebook and see who comes along. Invite your Students’ Union Officers along and send emails out to all the societies and group on our campaigns – particularly those that you think might be interested in the issues you are campaigning on.
- If you are short on numbers, plan something simple that doesn’t require many people to be involved, but allows you to talk to as many students as possible about the issue and get them to take action. For example, you could start a petition targeting your local MP, asking them to support one of your demands such as pledging defend student nurse bursaries facing the axe. Spend the week gathering signatures and then on Friday go along to your local MP’s surgery and present the petition. Inform the local media of your visit – they might cover it. Try to get your campus media to cover it too.
- Document your action with photos and a written report and share on social media. If you send them to the Student Assembly Against Austerity we will share them on our website and social media profiles – giving you to chance to reach thousands of people with your action!
- Have a post-week of action planning meeting organised so you can give people who are really interested in getting involved an opportunity to get involved in the future and so you can assess your success and work out the next steps! Maybe you’d like to keep up campaigning and start a Student Assembly Against Austerity local group – read on to find out how to set one up.
- Most importantly don’t panic! Organising can seem very daunting and complex at first but it is never as difficult as it seems. Remember, even the smallest, easiest action can have widespread appeal (especially if you get photos out on social media) and can help to kick-start a bigger movement!
Resources for the week of action
What is the Student Assembly Against Austerity?
We exist to bring together all students that wish to campaign for free education, against tuition fees, a lifetime of debt, cuts to education and the broad austerity offensive which represents the biggest assault on ordinary people for generations. Campaigning against all cuts, not less or slower.
We stand for:
- Building a huge, united movement to end austerity
- Free education – no cuts, no fees, no debt
- Defending public services – stop privatisation
- No more racist scapegoating – immigrants are not to blame
- Equality and liberation – opposing racism, sexism, disability, discrimination and LGBTphobia
- Stopping climate chaos – 1 million green jobs now
- Welfare not warfare – scrap Trident!
The Student Assembly Against Austerity organises national and local campaigns, events, actions and protests. There are so many ways to stay involved after the week of action.
Setting up a Student Assembly Against Austerity campus group
Each of our local groups also gets a place on our National Committee which democratically decides what the Student Assembly does nationally. You can also get involved in your local People’s Assembly at www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk.