Health Promotion students take their campaign on drugs policy to the streets
Students show their support for the 'Support Don't Punish' day of action.
By Lee Pinkerton
Students from the University of East London (UEL) took to the streets of Stratford this week to voice their opposition to the so-called War On Drugs. The demonstration was part of an international day of action for the global 'Support Don’t Punish' campaign.
The students' day of action was aimed at raising awareness among local people about how the Government's punitive approach to drugs policy can be counter-productive and harmful.
The 'Support Don't Punish' campaign calls for changes to the way society deals with drug addiction, arguing that the epidemic will not be solved by arresting people but by providing compassion and support.
The UEL students, led by Health Promotion senior lecturer Dr Jennifer Randall, campaigned in the Broadway shopping area, talking to members of the public about the many complicated issues that surround drug use.
One of the students, Daniel Hay, said he found the response from the public very positive.
"The day was brilliant," he said. "There were lots of very receptive people who were genuinely interested and supportive of the campaign. I found virtually no resistance to the movement from the people I spoke to.
"People who so often feel alone and neglected were able to see that there's people out there fighting for them.
“Many people gave up 10 minutes of their time to talk to us and I think it shows that public opinion could be on our side.
"The fact that the topic of drugs is still seen as taboo is holding us back, which is why this campaigning is so important.
"When we can turn this conversation into an open debate, I think that's when politicians will start listening to us. Until then, more grassroots activism is needed.”