I have a wee something in my eye this week! We’re celebrating Uplift’s one millionth action — and it feels amazing.
Hundreds of thousands of us have signed petitions, sent emails, made phone calls, texted, posted on social media, turned up on the door steps of decision makers, wrote letters, came along to rallies, petition deliveries, vigils, chipped in for newspaper ads, social media ads, posters and banners, bus and room hire and so much more.
We’ve joined training sessions, used our photography and videography skills, graphic design skills, and even song writing talents to make campaigns even more powerful than its possible to imagine.
Even when we were scared we stood up and spoke out about injustices we’ve witnessed, and experienced. Telling your story when perhaps you’ve never spoken out before is daunting. Sharing it in a very public way is heroic, especially when you know that it will help unlock the isolation and fear within others with similar experience.
Over the last four years I’ve watched people do this again and again. Sometimes people’s voices would tremble, or they’d be completely paralysed when it came to writing down or even sharing their experiences.
But, time and time again I’ve also seen joy on those same faces when they realise they aren’t alone. That the step they’ve taken to make a change means something to someone else. To the outsider, they might just see this community as a petition site or a way to make campaigns go viral. But, for me, I know that behind each and every signature is a person who has a story and a thirst for positive change for themselves and others in this often difficult and complicated world.
And, we’re making a difference. Together we’re holding decision makers to account, together we’re helping them make better decisions based on the realities of the lives we live and the collective power we all share. Some stand out moments over the past year or two include;
- Working with young Nonso Muojeke’s school teachers and students to make sure he was allowed stay in his home in Ireland
- Helping to stop the sale of the last Magdalene Laundry in Ireland
- Stopping evictions of whole groups of people in Wicklow and Limerick
- Getting pancreatic transplants restarted in Dublin
- Forcing the government to increase the number of refugees fleeing persecution to be allowed come to Ireland
- Making it possible for unaccompanied refugee children to be allowed come to Ireland
- Helping to put the brakes on allowing Irish Cement burn tyres in their Limerick plant
- Keeping the pressure up to secure the release of Irish prisoner Ibrahim Halawa
- Stopping the National Maternity Hospital from being controlled by a religious order
- Getting Barry’s Tea to agree to remove plastic from their tea bags
Uplift members are stars in a vast universe. We take a stand for what we believe in. Some of us do so without too much effort, more of us pour our hearts into every action we take together. All of us want to be part of a bigger community fighting for a better Ireland. Together we’re a powerful constellation, creating a powerful energy force that’s growing stronger by the day.
For sure it’s an old cliche that the world is changing. The pace of change is staggering and sometimes we’re running to catch up. But amazing opportunities have opened up too. I recall Uplift member Mary sharing how because she is confined to her bed with a debilitating disability she’s always felt left out. Though Uplift she found her voice. She’s visible, and connected and now feels powerful.
The digital revolution is helping change the rules of the game — and there’s no going back. Under the old rules, a closed system dominated by political and economic insiders made the decisions, relatively immune from public scrutiny. Under the new rules, vast numbers of us are able to take coordinated action to influence decision making.
When decision makers understand that people have them under scrutiny and that we can easily mobilise again and again — it makes us harder to ignore. More power to us all.
There are also many reasons to be hopeful — one million in fact!
More power to us all — Siobhan O’Donoghue