Zac Larkham

Through starting the rent strike at Sheffield Hallam University I’ve been at the front of the fight getting £4 million back in rent for our students exploited by landlords and holding the university to account on the sexual harassment of students. I’ve been active in the national Rent Strike Now network, working with student activist groups across the country and people like the NUS president and members of the Young Greens executive to work together to build a radical student movement that’s been dormant in recent years. As Campaigns Officer I want to build an activist base in the Young Greens that has the confidence to go out and create change.

From the Anti-Apartheid campaign to the 2010 student protests and more recently the Hong Kong independence movement, university rent strikes and Pimlico academy protests; young people have proven time and time again we have what it takes to organise and lead campaigns against injustice in society. I truly believe that young people are more than capable of creating change in society when we get together and organise.

Last summer we saw our friends sharing educational posts on Instagram, informing their friends about racism and other problems in society and that was amazing, but just being informed does not create change its what you do with that knowledge that matters. The spaces where young people are present are opportunities to organise to demand a better society and the Young Greens should embrace that vision in its campaigns. School, work, home and university are all places where we can fight the injustice seen in our day to day lives but many of us wouldn’t know where to start if someone asked us to get involved with a campaign.

The strength of a political organisation comes from its grassroots membership and in turn the strength of the grassroots membership comes from its ability to get involved with activism and campaigns – the more confident we can make members in their ability to get involved with local and national campaigns, the stronger the Young Greens will be as an organisation.

Now more than ever we are faced with a generation that feel undercut, unheard and will bear the brunt of the economic and social fallout of this pandemic. We need organisation to tap into this frustration and mobilise students. With proper organisation we can be transformed from victims of the COVID-19 pandemic into active participants in such struggles.

The Green Party Campaign School and online training events the Young Greens ran last year in the pandemic helped me endlessly to run the rent strike campaign at my university and it’s the sort of work the Young Greens should be doing more of. Equipping others to take charge and mobilise for change in their own lives is much more powerful than any campaign the Young Greens could run themselves. Just imagine a world where every Young Green felt confident unionising at work, fighting for justice in their university or behind their school gates – imagine the changes we would see!

It is our responsibility as a political organisation to not only run our own campaigns, but to equip and empower you, our members, to get together with others and create campaigns to change the injustice you see in your life. The role of Campaigns Officer should not be limited to just running campaigns with a Young Greens logo on the front, it should be a wider role facilitating to creation and participation in grassroots movements that are close to our members’ hearts and that’s what I want to do.

Young people are the future and the fight against capitalism and injustice starts with preparing us for battles we will be fighting our whole lives against an unjust system. As Campaigns officer, I want to be leading that and aiding our activists in the struggles they are fighting.

This article is part of a series from candidates standing in this year’s elections to the Young Greens of England and Wales Executive Committee. You can find all the articles in the series here. Voting is open in the Young Greens elections from July 3 to July 18. 

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