The People’s NHS have done an immense amount of work in Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg’s constituency, around the NHS and TTIP. 1500 constituents had written personally to Mr Clegg, asking him to make a stand against TTIP. It was decided to organise a march on April 25, to his office, from Endcliffe Park. More 250 people turned up including many members from 38 Degrees. (Our members were also running stalls, simultaneously, in other parts of Sheffield). When the march assembled I had the privilege of being the first speaker, and can be seen in the above cartoon.
This and the other cartoons below were drawn by a community reportage illustrator supporting good causes and people in Sheffield. Samantha: a great big thank you! (Twitter @sgalbraith47 ; Facebook Samantha Galbraith).
The photos which follow are from the beginning of the march. There were representatives from a wide spectrum of organisations, including the two universities and the Trades Council, and we were fortunate because people from Sheffield formed an ad-hoc choir, which sang Pro-NHS songs.
I spoke to a nurse on the march and she told us how management had instructed her and her colleagues not to attend!
The march was noisy and cheerful and many motorists added to the cacophony by tooting their horns. There were no signs of Nick Clegg at the constituency office and the heavens opened up just as we reached the office!
You can copy and paste the template press releases below into an email to local journalists to tell them about your local ‘Save our NHS’ petition delivery. Remember to change the red text in square brackets to the details of your local event!
You should find contact details for your local papers here. Or if that doesn’t work, Google “the name of your local paper + news desk” and you should see the contact details for the editor.
You can find the latest total for the petition in your area by searching your postcode here.
TEMPLATE PRESS RELEASE TO SEND BEFORE THE NHS PETITION DELIVERY
Embargo: for immediate release
Contact: [add your phone number and email address here].
Journalists are invited to attend the petition delivery event
[Your area] campaigners to deliver x,000-strong NHS petition to MP candidates
People from [your area] will deliver a ‘Save Our NHS’ petition signed by x,000 local people to their MP candidates this Saturday 25th April.
The petition will be handed over at [time] at [location] by [your name], a member of independent campaign group 38 Degrees from [the area you live in] and other members of 38 Degrees.
It calls on the MP candidate to do everything they can to protect the NHS from funding squeezes, privatisation, and the TTIP trade deal if they’re elected.
The campaigners will also be challenging their MP candidates to answer questions on exactly how they will protect the NHS if they’re elected on May 7.
[YOUR NAME], a 38 Degrees member from [Area] who’s helping to organise the event said: “[This quote is the place for you to write why you care about the NHS and why you want to challenge your local MP candidates to protect it.
Here’s an example: “Our NHS has always been there for me and my family when we’ve needed it. The thought of my family being cared for by profit-making companies really scares me. That’s why I’m taking the message to protect our NHS from privatisation and funding freezes straight to every MP candidate standing in [area]. We invite anyone in [area] who cares about having a public NHS that’s there for all of us when we need it, to come and join us at [location] at [time]. ”]
David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees said: “We’re sending a clear message to our local MP candidates: you’re being watched by hundreds us, and we all want you to protect the NHS.
“Politicians can’t sit on the fence about the NHS. If they want our votes, they need to promise to keep the NHS safe from private companies and funding freezes. We won’t stand for another five years of the NHS being broken up or squeezed to breaking point.
“Saturday’s petition delivery event is all about the people of [area] telling our next MPs exactly what we want for our NHS.”
Notes to editors 38 Degrees is one of the UK’s biggest campaigning communities, with over 3 million members. 38 Degrees brings you together with other people to take action on the issues that matter to you and bring about real change in the UK.
Click this link to find out where your nearest meeting point is and join in – you’ll need to pop in your postcode and a few details to be able to chat to other local 38 Degrees members: http://38degrees.org.uk/save-our-nhs-day
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert. Talk about your experience of the NHS and why it’s important to you. Talk about why a health service that’s free at the point of delivery is important, and ask people what kind of a world they want to live in. You could talk about how the NHS should be focused on saving lives, not making money.
Lots of people will sign the petition because they already agree with us, and some people will simply walk past you or say no. But others will want to talk to you a bit more about it before signing. We’ve produced answers to some of the most common questions that get asked – just in case you want a bit of extra help!
Here are some ideas for answers to some of the tricky questions that people may ask you:
Q. What do you want?
A. This is a petition to every candidate to be our MP in the general election in May. We want them to promise that they’ll do all they can to protect our NHS from privatisation. That means stopping privatisation, making sure it has the money it needs, and stop it being undermined by international corporations.
Q. How will I help save the NHS by signing a petition?
A. In the lead up to an election it can make a huge difference. Now’s the time to take advantage of the fact that they have to listen to what we say. Politicians are fighting over who’ll win the election here and experts say it might come down to a few votes. They’re desperate to impress us. They know that votes will be tight – so let’s show them how many of us will be thinking about the NHS as they weigh up who to vote for.
Q. This won’t help. Politicians say one thing before the election and another after. Don’t they?
A. Sometimes yes they do, we’ve experienced disappointments from a lot of politicians, haven’t we? That’s exactly why we have to put this pressure on politicians in public, and spread the word as far as we can. And we won’t be taking them at their word; we’ll be following up this petition with other ways to pile on the pressure – like public meetings – before and after the election. We can make sure they’re held to account.
It’s already happening. In the last few years, more and more services have been quietly privatised. Everything from GPs, to ambulance services, to whole hospitals are now privately run for profit.
Q. I heard the NHS costs 2 billion pounds a week to run. Isn’t that too much?
A. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But the USA – which has a private healthcare system – spends almost twice as much per head on healthcare as us. The UK was recently voted the most efficient health care system in the world by an international panel of experts.
Private companies have one job: to make money. Too often their idea of “waste” is “anything that gets in the way of turning a profit.” We think that the health service should be about saving lives, not making money. But more importantly, the NHS is the safety net that means that none of us have to worry that we can’t afford to get ill. It benefits us all.
In general, it’s hard to find an A&E department that isn’t under strain, a GP with appointments to spare or hospital staff who aren’t under pressure. And the main reason the NHS is in crisis is because it’s been run down and neglected by politicians.
Q. There are other more important things to spend money on (housing, education etc)
A. Housing is important. Education is important. But our NHS is really important too. People shouldn’t go through life worrying that they can’t afford to be sick.
What do I do with the petition sheets once we’ve collected signatures?
Either on the day, or straight after, please add the names and details you collect to the online petition. Here’s the page to do it. It’s important you add the signatures by Wednesday 29th April, so they can be counted in the vital few days before the general election. Imagine how powerful it’ll be if we can take a giant Save Our NHS petition to political parties’ HQs right before the election!
It shouldn’t take too long, and it might help to divide the work between your group. You can also check in with other members on the election hub about who will be happy to add signatures to the online petition.
Once you’ve added the signature online, you can tear the sheets up and throw them out. Remember that completed petition sheets contain some personal information so you need to take care with disposing of them. Don’t leave them lying around, and don’t let anyone use the contact details for any purpose other than for adding them to the petition.
Something went wrong! Was the signature was added to the petition?
If you pressed either of the buttons ‘Add Signature’ or ‘I’m Finished’, the signature has been added to the petition, even if the page crashes after you do this.
Can I send my petition sheets into the office again?
Unfortunately, the 38 Degrees office team is not able to receive any more petition sheets. This is because the small staff team does not have the capacity to type them in, but also because this activity is regulated by the gagging law, meaning we’re unable to have members of the office team upload the signatures.
I really, really can’t upload the signatures.
Don’t worry, there are lots of members on the election hub who would like to be involved in the Day of Action, but can’t go out on the streets or don’t mind entering petition signatures. Try to find them before Saturday or on the day, and you can work together to make a plan.
What do I do if someone signs the petition without an email address?
Please encourage signers to add their email address, so they can be sent an update about the campaign. But don’t worry if they don’t, they can still sign the petition and you can enter their signature by leaving the email field blank. At a minimum, everyone should be encouraged to give a postcode in order to prove they are a constituent.
What if the signature is difficult to read when entering signatures?
If you can’t read a signature, it unfortunately means it can’t be entered. Try to keep this in mind when collecting signatures: maybe ask people to sign or write clearly, or have a designated writer for postcodes and names.
What do you mean by “signature”? There isn’t a box on the petition sheet for real signatures.
By signature, we mean the persons name and postcode – written to register their support.
Where do I send pictures and how can I tell the press what we’re doing?
If you’re on social media, please make sure you tweet using #SaveourNHS or share your pictures of the day on Facebook.
You can also keep other 38 Degrees members up to date with what you’re doing by sending pictures to email@example.com
If you want to send a press release to your local paper along with pictures of the event, you can find a template at the top of this page to use as a guide:
Where can I find materials to print, like NHS petition sheets, leaflets and posters? Here’s the link to lots of NHS materials – you can print them out in black and white. If you don’t have a printer, hopefully someone else going to your event will have some spare to share with you.
How can I get in touch with other members who are attending the event?
The best place to talk with other members is posting in the election hub here: https://election.38degrees.org.uk/ If you’d like other members to get directly in contact with you by phone or email, but don’t want to post your information in a comment on the hub, please send your contact details and constituency to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll share your details with members registered to attend the event.
Where is my event?
To find out where members are meeting in your area, join here – it will take you to a page with a map and a list of events.
Event locations are written in the description of the event, and are represented on the map by the little blue icons. If the written description is unclear, zooming in on the map should make the location more clear.
Who will be at my local event? What if plans change?
You can find out all the details about the event you’ve signed up for on the event page and in the discussion on that page. You can contribute to the discussion to make suggestions and find out the latest developments.
What if no one else turns up on Saturday?
Don’t worry if no one else turns up! You can get plenty done on your own – last time many members said that they had a great time and collected loads of signatures on their own.
What will the day involve?
Check out this inspiring two minute video on how to collect signatures for the NHS petition:
Thousands of 38 Degrees members are coming together in town centres across England before the 7th May 2015 election to save our NHS. Together, we’re meeting on our local high streets to gather signatures on local ‘Save our NHS’ petitions.
We’ll remind people that our NHS is a precious, life-saving service – and ask them to join us in saying no to cuts and privatisation. The petitions target every local candidate running to be MPs at the General Election in May. Then, later that day, members will gather to hand in certificates with the number of signatures straight to MP candidates.
Where can I see the online ‘Save our NHS’ petition?
You can see both the national and your local ‘Save our NHS’ online petitions here.
What to take with you:
Petition sheets to collect signatures – volunteers will receive these before Saturday
A camera or smartphone if you have one to take pictures so you can share what’s happening on social media or emailing the 38 Degrees office team
Any posters or placards you’d like to make and take
Leaflets to hand out – volunteers will receive these before Saturday
If you’ve ordered a pack of materials, or registered to attend the event on the election hub, the materials are now in the post and you’ll receive them by Saturday.
Is there a main page for the 38 Degrees Save our NHS campaign?
Yes! And it should have all the materials and links you could possibly need. You can see it here: www.38degrees.org.uk/nhs
What facts do I need to know about the NHS?
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert. Most people already agree with us about protecting the NHS from privatisation and funding it properly. If they need a bit more convincing, you could talk about your experience of the NHS and why it’s important to you.
You could also talk about why it matters to keep our health service free at the point of use – ask them to imagine having to worry how much it would cost to visit a doctor! Or you could talk about how a health care system should be focused on saving lives, not making money.
If anyone wants more information, feel free to direct them to the 38 Degrees website – the office team have added some facts and figures about the NHS which can be found here.
Where should I collect petition signatures? Is it legal to collect petition signatures or give out leaflets?
Try to find a prominent place with lots of foot traffic to collect your petition signatures. Gather together with other 38 Degrees members who have come along. You might also want one of your group to be in a nearby cafe to upload the petition signatures you collect straight onto the online petition.
It’s legal to collect petition signatures. There are a few different rules about giving out leaflets, but it’s definitely legal! In terms of Public Liability Insurance, our experience with past Days of Action has proved that if you are petitioning on public land, and do not block the right of way while doing so, you don’t need to worry about Public Liability Insurance.
Some councils have told members that you’re not allowed to stand in the town centre. This is wrong. Unless you are causing an obstruction (say setting up a table etc) then you don’t need any permission from the council. There’s a bit of legal guidance here on charity/political organisations which should clarify: https://www.gov.uk/permission-to-distribute-leaflets
If you’re in a public place, you’re well within your rights to hand leaflets out to the public if it’s for a charity, or a political or religious group. If anyone does ask you to move, put the ball back in their court and ask where you can hand them out instead.
If you’re meeting up somewhere that could be considered private property – like inside of a shopping centre – security or the centre’s managers could ask you to leave. If you are asked to leave somewhere by staff or security it’s best to do so and move to a public space to carry on collecting signatures or handing out your leaflets.
What if someone refuses to sign the petition?
If someone doesn’t want to sign the petition, respect their individual choice. You can still be assertive when asking people to sign the petition, and have a conversation if they seem interested and have the time, but don’t be pushy. There will always be others who do want to sign!
I’m having trouble signing in to the event page!
If you’ve tried to log in but can’t get your password right, click “Forgotten password” and you’ll get an email that will tell you how to reset it. You’ll need to have made an account with your email address before you can access the event page.
Can I join an event in a different constituency?
Yes! If you’d like to join an event in a different constituency, you can change your area in the election hub. To do this, first click on your name in the top left-hand corner of the election hub. Then, under ‘Edit Your Profile’, put your new postcode in the ‘postcode’ field. Once you click ‘Save’ you’ll be able to see the events for this constituency.
What happens if there’s more than one event happening in my constituency?
That’s fine! The more events we have, the more noise we’ll be making about saving our NHS. Every constituency is a different size, so in some areas it might be more practical to have more than one event. For example, the constituency of Hexham in Northumberland covers a large area – it might be a good idea to have separate events in Prudhoe, Ponteland and Hexham.
What if someone lives in a different constituency?
The online form, where you type in the petition signatures you collect, will automatically add people to the right petition for their area depending on their postcode. So don’t worry at all about people signing from a different constituency to you. You’ll be helping to grow your neighbours’ petitions, and they’ll be helping to grow yours.
Where can I direct friends/family/neighbours who want to join in local 38 Degrees events?
People who want to join 38 Degrees events should sign up here.
I set up an event, so why am I getting an email reminder about it?
Everyone who signs up to attend an event will receive updates on the plan via email. This is to make sure everyone knows where to find other 38 Degrees members on the day. If you want to receive fewer emails, visit this page.
How do I stop getting an email every time someone makes a comment about the event?
To stop comments on your local event page being emailed to you, edit your details here
You might need to sign in with your email address and password.
This will take you to an “Edit your profile” page – here you can untick the box next to “Stop comment notifications” and you will stop receiving emails.
Where do I send the signed petition sheets?
You’ll need to type in the signatures online here. The office team can’t accept any petition sheets for this Day of Action, as we don’t have the capacity to upload them.
What happens next?
This is the final push to save our NHS in the run up to the election on the 7th May.
Once you’ve finished collecting signatures, you can add the signatures to the online petition and attend your local petition hand-in.
38 Degrees members in Brighton & Hove have taken a number of big actions against TTIP over the last week.
Things kicked off with a public meeting at St Mary’s Church in Kemptown. 250 people turned out from across the city to hear introductions from John Hilary of War on Want and Bex Hay of 38 Degrees. Then we had the chance to quiz the candidates from Brighton Kemptown constituency to hear their opinions of TTIP, as well as their party lines.
Nancy Platts – Labour, Davy Jones – Green Party, Paul Chandler – Liberal Democrat, Howard Pilott – Socialist Party and Nigel Furness – UKIP.
In the run up to the election, thousands of 38 Degrees members are hitting the streets and making phone calls to save our NHS. We’re gathering signatures on local Save Our NHS petitions and talking to people about why it’s important to vote to protect our NHS from privatisation and funding squeezes this election.
Remember you don’t have to be an expert to talk about our NHS. Talk about your experience of the NHS and why it’s important to you. Talk about why a health service that’s free at the point of delivery is important, and ask people what kind of a world they want to live in. You could talk about how a health care system should be focused on saving lives, not making money.
In case you want a few facts at your fingertips, here are the top three facts you might find useful when talking to people about our NHS:
In 2012 the government made big changes to the NHS through the Health and Social Care Act. Since these changes have come into force, a third of all NHS contracts have gone to private firms. 
Government funding cuts to social care and GP surgeries has led to thousands of patients taking up hospital beds because they cannot access care in the community. 
26 countries – including France and the Netherlands – spend more on their health care than the UK. And every year billions of pounds is lost from corporations and wealthy individuals not paying their fair share of tax in the UK. If our politicians cracked down on tax dodging, we could afford to fund our health service properly. 
In spring 1924 the BBC broadcast its first outdoors program: recording the song of a nightingale as it sang to the music of a cello. The broadcast was so popular the tradition continued each year until the Blitz.
Now, to highlight the plight of Britain’s declining nightingale population, 38 Degrees member Chris has started a campaign to bring back birdsong to British radio.
Here’s what Chris has to say:
“Everyone’s heard of the nightingale, but have you ever heard one sing? If it’s on your bucket-list, be quick. They’ve declined 90% in the UK, and only sing for a few weeks each spring, as males try to call down lady nightingales migrating overhead at night.
It’s a once heard, never forgotten experience. Some hear joy, some tragedy, some love, some sorrow. It inspired Chaucer, Keats and singers since; even the stony Lord Reith, who picked the Nightingale for the BBC’s first ever Outside Broadcast in 1924.
Singers, birders, local campaigners and even people called nightingale are lending their help. Nearly 1500 signed last year, and now we’re trying again and have reached 2,200: please help us by signing and sharing the petition, so each remaining live singing nightingale gets a friend to make its voice heard.
We believe that if enough of us ask the BBC, they’ll re-start the broadcasts. And if they did, and people took the time to listen, it might get the national attention needed to enable conservationists to act.”
Jeremy Hunt’s put off the decision to open a minor injuries unit at Cossham Hospital until after the election. Despite two years of local campaigning, the Tory health minister has refused to give the unit the green light.
This government hasn’t secured the NHS services Kingswood needs. But with an election less than three weeks away, 38 Degrees members could help elect an MP who’ll do better.
Letters pages of local papers are read by hundreds of voters. If together, 38 Degrees members flood the papers with letters about Jeremy Hunt’s poor decision, we can show how important it is to vote for an MP who’ll promise a minor injuries unit. The election race in Kingswood is extremely close, so our letters could make a big difference.
The 38 Degrees website makes it really easy to write a letter to your local paper. You only need to write a few lines, and there are suggestions to help. Click here to get started.
38 Degrees members across the country voted to make our NHS the top issue this election. That’s particularly important in Kingswood where we need an MP who’ll push for a minor injuries unit at Cossham Hospital.
The letters page of a local paper is one of the biggest markers of what’s happening in a constituency. Together, 38 Degrees members can let people know that this government hasn’t provided Kingswood with the NHS services it needs.
Here are some top tips for writing the letter:
1. It’s always best when letters are personalised. When you click the link there are some suggestions on the page about what to say
2. Letters should be short – fewer than 200 words
3. Once you have submitted your letter, you could phone the letters desk to check they’ve seen it and to reiterate why it is important that they print the letter .
You can copy and paste the template press releases below into an email to local journalists to tell them about your local ‘Save our NHS’ event. Remember to change the red text in square brackets to the details of your local event!
You should find contact details for your local papers here. Or if that doesn’t work, Google “the name of your local paper + news desk” and you should see the contact details for the editor.
TEMPLATE PRESS RELEASE TO SEND BEFORE THE NHS DAY OF ACTION
Embargo: for immediate release
Contact: [your name, your phone number and your email address].
Journalists are welcome to attend the day of action.
[area] locals challenge MP candidates on the NHS Campaigners call on people to ‘vote to protect the NHS’ this election
[Area] people are set to put their MP candidates to the test with an NHS election protest on Saturday 25th April.
The day of action – held just eleven days before the general election – has been coordinated by independent campaign group 38 Degrees. It will see local campaigners talk to hundreds of voters about the importance of protecting the NHS at the general election.
They will take to the streets at [location of your day of action] at 11am on Saturday 25th April, joining thousands of other people protesting on the same day across England.
The campaigners are calling on people in [your constituency] to vote to protect the NHS in the general election, and will be challenging their MP candidates to protect the NHS from privatisation and funding freezes. They are also set to rate their MP candidates’ pledges on the NHS using an online tool.
[Your name], a 38 Degrees member from [area] said: “[This quote is the place for you to write why you care about the NHS and why you want to challenge your local MP candidates by taking part in the day of action. Here’s an example: 'Our NHS has always been there for me and my family when we’ve needed it. But some politicians seem determined to break it up and sell parts off to the highest bidder. The thought of my family being cared for by profit-making companies really scares me. That’s why I’m going out in [location] this Saturday with lots of others to spread the word that the way we vote on 7th May could determine whether our NHS is still there for our children and grandchildren.’]”
David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees said: “This Saturday, people in [area] will be talking to hundreds of voters about how their vote could protect the NHS this election.
“We want [area’s] MP candidates to see that the best way to win votes is to pledge to save the NHS from privatisation and funding freezes. Every candidate needs to realise that cutting NHS funding, or handing it over to private companies, is a huge turn off for voters.
“Saturday’s day of action is all about the people of [area] taking back the power, and putting their MP candidates to the test on the NHS.”
The [area] petition to save the NHS is at: www.38degrees.org.uk/nhs
Notes to editors
38 Degrees is one of the UK’s biggest campaigning communities, with over 3 million members. 38 Degrees brings you together with other people to take action on the issues that matter to you and bring about real change in the UK.
On Saturday, locals out and about in Sheffield’s city centre were invited to spin giant ‘coins’ and test their luck about TTIP - the dodgy trade deal that’s a threat to our democracy and our NHS.
This was Sheffield’s creative contribution to a global day of action demanding that TTIP is stopped. We had a colourful presence in the middle of Fargate and together handed out hundreds of leaflets with information about TTIP to make sure even more people find out about this secretive trade deal – that lots of politicians want to keep under wraps.
We also collected more than 300 signatures on the huge EU-wide petition against TTIP to build pressure on governments across the continent to take a stance for democracy.
38 Degrees member Ruth has been campaigning against TTIP since she first heard about it last year, “I am alarmed by the massive powers TTIP gives corporations to get rid of laws that protect us or force privatisation in our public services. Officials in Brussels have said that our NHS is protected from TTIP – but leaked documents have shown even that’s not true.”
Another 38 Degrees member Huw had been in bed on Saturday morning when he got an email from 38 Degrees about the action, he decided to get up right away and head into the city centre to join the stall because “it doesn’t take much to get involved, but if we all do our bit we could stop this dodgy deal.”
Want to learn more about TTIP and where candidates standing to be an MP in Sheffield Hallam stand? Come along to a public meeting on Monday 27th April, from 7pm, at the Quaker’s Meeting House, St James Street, Sheffield S1 2EW. Sign up to attend here. All are welcome!
To get more involved with what 38 Degrees members are up to this election in Sheffield, join in the conversation here.