Actions in person (most recent first)
World Mental Health Day: 10 Oct 2021
Joint action: Psych Declares, Climate Psychology Alliance, XR Psychologists
Climate Cafe – Southbank, London 10/10/21
On Sunday 10 October the Southbank is alive with carnival spirit. A banner strapped to the railings reads We Need to Talk about the Climate Crisis. I add my chair to the circle of camping chairs positioned around a table with urn and teapot to welcome passers-by. This is the most exposed climate café I have ever attended. We earnestly share our grief and anger to the backdrop of samba, jugglers and stand-up comedians. I’m distracted by a man dressed as a unicorn holding a unicycle, a woman in flame-orange shorts balances upside-down above the crowds. Aromas of street food fills the air. The Thames gleams, tourists stop to photograph. A fairground heaves, lights flash in lurid pinks and greens. The London Eye looms over the trees above our heads. We gaze at Parliament on the opposite bank and wish someone there would take notice.
Straining to hear each other’s voices above the cacophony of Sunday afternoon fun feels like a metaphor; can our voices be heard within a world denying climate change? Now and then we catch ourselves incongruently swaying to the music and laugh. The scene feels like a bizarre dream. Jointly, we agree that climate talks belong here amidst the fanfare, razzle-dazzle and hubbub of humanity. Linking the circle to the public our outreach members keep the sharing space safe whilst offering leaflets and explaining what we are up to. Certain members of the public are humble and want to know how to get involved. At times outreach workers feel the brunt of being ignored as well as the joy of experiencing those moments of connection.
In the de-brief we feel the action is a success, such outreach complements disruptive rebellion, gives us the opportunity to explain our purpose and raise awareness. In sitting within this sharing circle, we give permission to others to reach out and allow an emotional and bodily response to climate change. After the café I feel grateful for the opportunity of connecting with others and look forward to similar creative experiments.
London XR Rebellion: 23rd Aug – 4th Sept 2021
XR Psychologists – March For Nature 4/9/21
On Saturday 9th September psychologist rebels from around the country gathered in Trafalgar Square to join Extinction Rebellion’s March for Nature, and share in our collective concern for the future of our planet and all its inhabitants.
We were glad to be joined by psychiatry colleagues from PsychDeclares, and after listening to a series of inspiring talks in the square, set off with many hundreds of fellow climate-concerned citizens and a samba band on a lively march through the streets of central London.
With XR Psychologists being a national group, as well as contending with the pandemic, meeting up together face-to-face has been a rare occurrence, and it was both nourishing and energising to be together for the afternoon – catching up with familiar faces, welcoming new ones, and meeting as whole, embodied people rather than the faces on screens we have got to know on Zoom.
Marching through London with our ‘XR Psychologists’ and ‘feel, think, act together’ banners and flyers was a great way of engaging with both other rebels and curious passers-by, many stopping to see or hear what we had to say or take photos. We strongly feel that as trusted health professionals we have a responsibility to join the collective effort to safeguard the health and wellbeing of humanity. With the inaction of government and those in power, taking to the streets in peaceful protest is one of the ways we can work towards this and call for the systems change that is long overdue.
The march took us down Regents Street, Oxford Street and finished in Hyde Park, where we were glad to rest our legs and start to make plans for our next action, which will be in London on 10th October – world mental health day. Do get in touch if you’d like to be involved!
Alice Walker and Georgia King
24th September 2021
XR Psychologist Rebels being interviewed during the London Rebellion
01 September 2020, London
Watch this video of our Feel Think Act action and read a description below.
Feel, Think, Act performative action
Our first action took place during the 2020 Rebellion in central London. As a newly formed group, it became an important way for us to connect and support each other in our activism, with the planning as important to us as a community of psychologist activists as the action itself.
As a professional group there is a consensus that our ability to hold space for others to speak their feelings, to acknowledge and to contain difficult emotions is one of the skills we bring to our engagement with the climate crisis. The action was designed with this in mind, guiding the audience through the feelings of denial and despair to action and hope. We invited people to “Feel, think, act together” as a way of positively navigating the crisis that now looms before us. The performative element was created in collaboration with the Tarte Noire Playback Theatre Company, who expertly advised our performers on how to embody the feelings and bring flow to the performance.
The action was moving and powerful. For many of us, the dramatic element was a step out of our comfort zone, as was reaching out to the public to share our leaflets and concern about the climate crisis. We ourselves moved through the feelings embodied by our colleagues as we designed and shared our action. Our presence at the Rebellion seemed to bring reassurance and hope to other activists, many of whom commented that they were glad to see psychologists speaking out about the emotional impact of the climate crisis.
This may have been our first action, but we feel sure it won’t be our last.
Kaaren Knight and Katy Woodward
What we do
‘Personally I think as psychologists we’ve got a moral obligation to address planetary health if we’re going to be able to do anything for the individuals that we’re working with’