Chesterfield's WASPI women rally with Bolsover's beast
The campaigning phenomenon known as WASPI swarmed into Chesterfield on Friday - backed by a big beast from Bolsover.
WASPI - or Women Against State Pension Inequality - is a group of women born in the 1950s who say they have been unfairly treated by recent changes to the state pension age and are fighting for compensation.
Their campaign has already been incredibly successful, securing a high-profile parliamentary debate on the issue and garnering the support of politicians of all parties from across the country.
One of those supporting them on the day was the self-styled ‘Beast of Bolsover’, Dennis Skinner MP, who gave a typically impassioned speech to the assembled crowds.
One of the WASPI co-ordinators for North East Derbyshire, Tricia Clough, said: “We wanted to make it a fun day. We were a bit disappointed with the weather but Dennis was there to tell us we had to maintain the pressure and keep reaching out to get as many women involved as possible.
“As a result of Friday’s rally we got a lot more interest but it is not just the big campaigns that count - even the little ones make a difference.
“What has amazed me is all the young people - and men - who are supporting us - we have always said it is not just the women who have lost money who are affected, it is their whole families.”
Since beginning as just a handful of people, the campaign has grown beyond any of their wildest dreams and will soon be employing voluntary staff in several key areas to further their work.
As part of that work, WASPI will be heading down to Birmingham to protest outside the Conservative Party conference in October.
“Even if you have never done anything with us before we would like you to come with us,” said Tricia.
Since the group’s 190,000-signature online petition served its purpose of securing a debate in parliament on the issue, their attention has now turned to a paper petition which will be delivered there in October.
“We now have 140 MPs supporting us and many other groups as well - there were thousands of people involved in rallies all over the country on Friday,” said Tricia.
The group is, however, conscious there may be many women who are not online who still haven’t heard of the campaign.
“One of the groups we have been trying to reach recently is women who don’t use the internet,” she says.
“If you don’t, you can still get involved by sending or delivering a letter with your contact details to the Labour club on Saltergate and we will get in touch with them.”
Unfortunately for the campaign, it has just had a set back in the form of an apparent rebuff from new pensions minister Damian Green - but Tricia says the women of WASPI will not give up that easily.
“We are not going to take it lightly but like good poker players we are going to keep our cards close to our chests for the time being.
“I have lost £36,000 as a result of these changes and I will fight to my dying day to get it back.”
n To find out more information or to get involved in the campaign, visit www.waspi.co.uk.