By October 1984 the Miners Strike had been under way in Britain for almost eight months. There was little sign that the government was prepared to give way and the strike itself was still solid. In London (as elsewhere) collections were taking place on the streets to help mining families. The Labour party in the Kentish Town area of Camden was one of many that did this every week outside the post office or the Co-Op on Kentish Town Road.

But it seemed to Labour party members of the Castlehaven ward that this was not enough and with half term coming up we decided to do what we could for some mining families. So we got in contact with the miners support committee in Armthorpe in Doncater, offering to take some children for a week. The appeal drew on the experience of London children during the blitz and went out as a leaflet to the houses and council estates in the area as a ‘Special’ edition of the Labour Party’s newsletter.

copy of labour party newsletter from 1984 requesting help for mining families

The response was good, with some people offering places and others giving money. We had no way of checking out who all of them were, but we did go along to visit them. In the end 8 children came and were put up by the community, some of whom were Labour Party members. A programme of visits was arranged, including trips to the Science Museum and a meal from the Greek Cypriot community, but undoubtedly the highlights of the holiday were Starlight Express, Ghostbusters and a tour of the Arsenal ground.

Some money was also collected to be sent back to the food kitchens which were feeding the mining families and overall it was a considerable success. It did not, of course, change the outcome of the strike, which ended in the miners being forced to return to work in March 1985. But it was one small sign of the solidarity felt by communities around the country for what the miners were going through.

Martin Plaut

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