THE Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition, one of the world’s biggest arms fairs, returns to the ExCel centre in London’s Docklands, from 12 to 15 September. More than 1700 exhibitors will be marketing items such as armoured cars, missiles, sniper rifles and tear gas to some of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Stop the Arms Fair is a network of groups and individuals campaigning to put an end to arms fairs in the UK, and in particular DSEI. Peaceful protests are organised during the exhibition and also in the days before it, to hinder the setting-up of the exhibition, which includes the delivery of large quantities of weapons and military equipment.

People of all faiths and denominations have been involved in peaceful protests against DSEI in previous years, including a ‘No Faith in War’ day in 2019 when a Quaker Meeting for Worship attracted 700 Friends, and a communion service and other acts of witness took place in the area around the exhibition centre.

Stop the Arms Fair is now preparing for this year’s event and looking for people who can volunteer for a variety of roles. These include:

  • Food and Drink. Helping to keep everyone fed and watered. Involves preparation and service of food; ensuring food safety; cleaning preparation areas, and washing up. No special training is required, though food hygiene certificates and experience of food preparation would be particularly useful.
  • Police Station Support. This role involves greeting people released from police custody and providing emotional and practical support, ensuring they are aware of what other support is available, and keeping the legal team informed.
  • Legal Observers. These are trained volunteers who support the legal rights of activists. They provide basic legal guidance and are independent witnesses of police behaviour at protests.
  • First Aiders. Their role is to provide aid to anyone who is injured or ill, to keep them safe, and to liaise with the emergency services as needed, This requires either medical or nursing training, or a current relevant certificate in First Aid.
  • Mental Health First Aider. This role is to provide aid to someone who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress, especially acting as an immediate point of contact; to keep them safe; to cause no further harm, and to liaise with emergency services as needed. This role requires either relevant medical or nursing training, or a current relevant certificate in Mental Health First Aid.
  • Social Media and Citizen Journalism. This role is getting the word out. Capturing images, video, sharing the story of events taking place on the day (especially for those not physically present); mobilising and encouraging participation; demonstrating solidarity. No special training is required, but skills in photography, videography and experience of using Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp is useful.
  • Welfare Team. Providing practical and emotional support on site, e.g. sharing food and water, quiet and supportive space for people in distress; managing support materials and equipment (e.g. blankets, water bottles); identifying welfare needs and signposting people to the relevant resources. No special training is required, but experience organising welfare support would be useful.
  • Infrastructure Team. Ensuring the site physically remains a safe, accessible place to be; setting up and moving shelters and toilets; preventing damage e.g. due to wind; ensuring any ramps / facilities needed are in place. No special training required, but practical skills around putting up tents or shelters, moving heavy objects and driving would be useful.

Art the Arms Fair runs an art exhibition and programme of creative events during the week of the arms fair itself. There are roles in build, driving, sound, photography, workshops, as well as more general help.

Stop The Arms Fair says, “We are aware that there are many activities not listed above. If you are providing transport, accommodation, food, making art, babysitting, pet-sitting, a listening ear, an encouraging word, or sharing information online or in person, you are helping put a stop to the arms fair! Thank you!”

* To get involved in any of these roles, use the contact form here.

* To get involved in Art the Arms Fair, use the contact form here.

* Source: Stop the Arms Fair