“I’m walking for my son Jake, so his existence isn’t meaningless,” said Chris Evans, one of a record number of parents and activists marching on Parliament today demanding the government take charge of the illegal drugs market.
“I’m walking so that 22 years of loving is not wasted, so that minds can be changed and attitudes altered,” Chris, who lost her son to a drug overdose, added.
Today was the culmination of a six day walk organised by Anyone’s Child, a group made up of bereaved parents who are demanding a change in the country’s “harmful” drug policy.
Families wrecked by the current drug laws want MPs to bring in legal regulation of the drugs trade by putting doctors, pharmacists and licensed vendors in charge of the narcotics market. A move they say would save countless lives.
The current approach, which bans drugs and criminalises those involved with them causes more harm, they say. Leading to drug-gang violence, countless lives ruined by criminal records for possession, and entirely avoidable deaths from contaminated street drugs.
Anne-Marie Cockburn who lost her 15 year old daughter Martha to a drug overdose said: “As I stand by my child’s grave, what more evidence do I need that things must change?
“I believe that my daughter would still be alive today had she taken something that was legally regulated – as it would be labelled with a list of ingredients and recommended dosage information.”
Rose, who lost both her sons drug overdoses, said: “I’m walking 55 miles of the Thames Path for my dead sons Jake and Roland. Along the way we want to raise awareness and funding for our campaign. When we reach Parliament we want all MPs to know about Anyone’s Child and the message we bring, so every one of them can’t fail to see that current drug policies cause enormous harm.”
The walk began at Cookham, a small village located on the River Thames, last Thursday (June 20) and it continued up the river with events held each day to raise awareness of their cause.
This afternoon, a protest has been held on College Green, outside Westminster, where ‘forget-me-not’ flowers have been placed into the ground in memory of lost loved ones and MPs along with families, who are publicly telling their heartbreaking stories, are taking part in speeches.
Every week, 70 people in the UK are killed in drug-related deaths, one in three drug-related deaths in the EU happens in the UK.
That’s 10 a day, 280 each month, 3,500 every year.
James Nicholls, chief executive of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, told The Independent: “This campaign wants to see a radical change to drug policy. All drugs can be harmful, but the law as it stands makes them much more dangerous. We want to see drugs legally regulated, as is the case for alcohol and tobacco.
“At the moment, people have no idea what they are buying and we see countless deaths every year from accidental overdose or poisoning. The amount of violence linked to supply is also spiralling. These families have experienced the tragic consequences of all this, which is why they’re calling for the government to bring the drug trade under control.”
Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control is a campaign group formed by Transform Drug Policy Foundation, an Bristol-based organisation.
Transform works to reduce drug-related harm through advocating reforms to the policy and practice of governments across the world.