I always joke that you just need to give me a cause and ill fight for it. I’ve always been one to champion the underdog. Bet on any David over a Goliath.Im the friend that calls in when theres a problem with the food, my friends and family tend to prefer that i’m the one that speaks to management when situations call for it.Why though? Does it come easier for me? Not at all. I suffer with social social anxiety and as such I am always making a conscious effort to move past it. I’ll often voluntarily put myself into the situations that I don’t like or wish to avoids, ones that the inner me is screaming at me to flee from. I know what it feels like to get to my worst point and I actively work to avoid this. So no, I don’t speak up because it comes easier to me. It doesn’t, but I was a little girl who didn’t speak up and I refuse to be an adult that does the same.
I joked in a twitter post that I made back in May that lockdown had made me discover my activist heart. But the reality is I have always known that I have one.
3 years ago I embarked on my until now, biggest David to Goliath battle. It had come to my notice that my local gym was getting rid of the health suite when it was remodelled. Now, you’re probably thinking its not that deep. And it shouldn’t be. However, having a disabled mother who paid monthly gym membership just to get the benefits of the health suite, I took to the cause with full vim.
I hadn’t ever confronted a corporation of this size on anything before but knew that I needed to garner support and that involved making people aware. I had heard the news myself through the grapevine, but I wanted to reach a much wider audience. I started a petition on change.org to get people to sign up and oppose the changes that the gym were planning.
I spoke to management who informed me that everyone had been made aware during the consultation stages. This contradicted many of the responses that I had from people. In fact while I got every other spam content from the gym, notification of this major change was not one of them. My petition on change.org was not moving fast enough for me, so I began to print flyers and hand them out before and after every class. Leaving flyers on the various notice boards around the gym didn’t help as staff would efficiently remove them at a rate faster then I could post them.
As my petition began to gain publicity and promotion, other people expressed a desire to be on board. I found that there were more people invested in this then I had originally anticipated. Now as a group we were able to create a much bigger stink, and ended up finally getting enough attention of the local council and upper gym management to facilitate meetings. This led to the arrangement of our local MP who had learned of our campaign. I didn’t win in keeping the whole health suite. The gym seemed adamant that the design would not allow for it, and even having an architect in board who drew up alternative plans, could not sway them.
Overall, this battle took 2 plus years. It was exhausting much of the time and, til now I have no clue how I became the face of the driving force behind the campaign. We didn’t win the war but we survived many battles along the way. They renamed the area on the new plans as a health suite and increased the capacity of the steam room and sauna from their first. I don’t say all this for you to give me credit, no, instead I say this, I know championing a cause is the long game. I tried for years to make this change. That was just the warm up! Education and the irradiation of racism are even greater causes and so much more dear to my heart. So as I prepare to depart on my latest journey, just know that I begin with eyes wide open. I know it will be hard work, but if one thing doesn’t change, nothing ever will!