5 petitions on that led to important victories in 2023

People in the UK turn to every day when they encounter injustice or feel that their voice isn’t being heard — and they can secure major victories for their campaigns through the weight of public support. In 2023 there were several major wins for UK-based campaigners on the platform. These are just some of the many campaigns that made an impact over the past 12 months:

Delivering the ‘Awaab’s Law’ petition to Downing Street: Rebecca Long-Bailey MP; Honor Barber from; Awaab’s father Faisal Abdullah; M.E.N. reporter Stephen Topping; Kelly Darlington from Farleys Solicitors; and lawyer Christian Weaver, who has represented the family

One of the most significant campaigns on in the UK was the call for ‘Awaab’s Law’. This petition was started by journalists at the Manchester Evening News, who worked with Shelter to call for legislation to prevent any more children dying from damp and mouldy social housing conditions. This followed the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in December 2020 from heart failure resulting from the mould in his family’s Rochdale home. This terrible story provoked a campaign which grew by over 150,000 signatures in just nine days. On the tenth day housing minister Michael Gove met with the family and made a commitment to making Awaab’s Law a reality, and the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill was amended in line with this campaign.

Another powerful story underpinned a petition from Leanne Thompson in Lincolnshire. In August, she received a letter from North East Lincolnshire Council telling her that if she did not remove her son’s memorial from Scartho Road Cemetery in Grimbsy, they would remove it themselves, and would not be liable for any damage. The reason for the planned removal was that the memorial was made of acrylic resin rather than stone, and could crack in cold temperatures. However, Leanne’s petition quickly grew to almost 50,000 signatures, and when it was pointed out that acrylic is stable to temperatures of at least -32C, the council backed down.

Campaigns to save important local facilities are common on, but one that really sparked a response concerned The Old Bakehouse, an assisted living home in Oxfordshire. In May, relatives of elderly people staying at the home voiced their concern in a petition when it was threatened with closure, arguing that “there are alternatives available and that keeping it open is essential for both our seniors and our community as a whole.” With almost 35,000 signatures, their campaign declared victory when the home’s owners opened discussions on its future two months later.

Later in the year, the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza led to many petitions on the platform. But one campaign with an urgent appeal about a single individual achieved its goal in a matter of days. When Dr Ahmed Sabra, an NHS Consultant from Swansea, was trapped in Gaza in the early stages of the conflict, his friend and colleague Sara Gretton started her petition, calling for his safe release. Her campaign put pressure on the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office to take action, and he was given safe passage, with Sara writing that “each and every one of your signatures contributed to bring him home”.

One of the younger change-makers on the platform in 2023 was 16-year-old Emmy Louisa. A huge fan of the England women’s football team, and goalkeeper Mary Earps in particular, Emmy launched a campaign on in the summer, calling on Nike to sell the Lionesses star’s World Cup kit – as well as the kits of other female keepers. Her petition captured the public imagination, attracted widespread media coverage, and rocketed to over 170,000 signatures. This groundswell of support forced Nike into action. Every release of the brand’s Mary Earps shirts have completely sold out, and Emmy has since called on them to produce more stock and apologise for their original failure to sell the kit.

Written by
Nick Mitchell
December 23, 2023 3:04 pm