CO-Gas Safety (COGS) has celebrated its 20th Year of Campaigning and held its last Schools Poster Competition at the House of Lords on Tuesday 27 January 2015.
We were honoured to be asked to deliver a speech at this event and did so about the state of Consumer Campaigning. Whilst we delivered our speech from a Carbon Monoxide perspective, we brought together the sum of our experiences from around the globe on the extensive areas that we cover.
In summary, we offered that the Consumer is trusting but ignorant of the environment around them, from food to water to the air that we breathe. Victims, Survivors and Activists exist in an 'HourGlass Vacuum', with Politicians and Industry on each side with the Campaigning lobby trapped in the middle. Little progress is made on key issues and the one unifying factor for all complaints is; HydroCarbons. We called for action from Parliament but recognition from the Victims, Survivors and Activists of the value of unity of purpose; we cautioned Politicians and Industry to exercise a greater recognition that this lobby of Victims and Survivors suffer with Brain Damage, Victim Syndrome, Grief and suffering the affects of exposure to HydroCarbons and ensuring that their views are used to balance the progress that is required.
The full text of our speech is set out below:
"Distinguished Prize Winners, Teachers, Hero’s, Ambassadors, Members of Parliament, Ladies, and Gentlemen. I would like to begin by thanking Stephanie and The Trustees of COGS for giving me the opportunity to speak here today and to congratulate them for holding yet another successful event & to join with them to commemorate and celebrate their achievements in their 20th year!
By happy coincidence, we too are celebrating our 20th year, of helping the Consumer. My journey has taken me to the four corners of the globe, dealing with complaints from booking problems, illness, toxins, corruption & suspicious deaths. Today I am going to be controversial, that is the nature of what I do and no-body should be surprised by what I have to say.
Throughout the world I have met victims, survivors & activists campaigning to right wrongs. In the UK on CO there is the valiant work of Gareth Hughes, simply seeking honesty and openness in what is contained within fuel products; Gordon and Avril Samuels who out of personal tragedy simply want the public informed of the dangers and for a greater use of alarms; Molly Maher lost a son and has a seriously disabled daughter – who tried and failed to obtain Justice in Spain & the UK, and then there is Stephanie! Like me, not a victim or a survivor, but nonetheless motivated to advocate for those who feel they have no voice and she does so in a responsible manner, highlighting the deficit on data, the need for Public Information and for meaningful legislation to protect the Public.
When you consider the world we live in, from aircraft, shipping, food and fuel, all of the issues causing concern have one unifying factor; Hydrocarbons.
As Consumers and Employees, we are blissfully unaware of what makes up the fuel we use, the food we eat or the air we breathe; all of us acquiesce to common phrases, clean air, clean water, fresh food, natural gas. We accept an element of risk and the sage words of our politicians and of Industry that everything is safe. Whilst we should always acknowledge the progress of initiatives, I have found, particularly in the UK that Campaigners on a wide range of issues, exist in what I call the Hourglass Vacuum; Politicians and Industry on either side with victims, survivors and activists in the middle with no real meeting of minds.
I am not a great supporter of Dominic Greive MP but I do admire him for his steadfast principles on Human Rights and International Law. Recently he was asked about pressure groups and the parliamentary process and he had this to say; "Parliament is about working collectively, moderating peoples views and coming to a consensus. We need to cooperate with each other".
In other words, parliament needs to facilitate opinion, indeed where are the Hybrid Leaders, taking a balanced position with Industry and with all the passions and desires of both victims/survivors, many of whom suffer with Brain Damage, Victim Syndrome, Grief or with the physical affects of exposure to HydroCarbons, with the goal of protecting Consumer health and their rights and providing a level playing field for Industry –I regret to say that in my view, there is currently no such balance in the UK CO debate!
On the other side of the coin, it’s essential that victims, survivors and activists practice objectivity and unity because their individual goals are complementary to each other. To demonstrate this point, in the cabin air quality debate, we have demonstrated that a unified lobby is an effective and challenging lobby and to the angst of Industry, it is having a global effect.
These honestly held opinions, borne out of experience, presents a challenge to all in this room; I would be happy to work with anyone to build a similar success – you must decide if you are ready to accept the challenge or continue with the generally held Campaigners view – ‘same old same old’!
To our young prize winners I say this; you have demonstrated your interest in your world and the environment you live in by taking part in this competition - many young people throughout the world have shown a similar interest on a wide range of issues - never lose this moment, treasure it and as you get older, maintain your interest in the world around you and make sure you express your views - never be frightened to shine a light in the dark corners of the world you live in.
To Stephanie and the Trustees of COGS, 20 years is a milestone, stay the course for whilst popularity is a fickle mistress, your courage on behalf of victims and survivors shines like a light for all - long may you continue!
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to me."
We shall report back to the regular visitors of this website, what, if any progress is made, in developing a more unified lobby and debate on the scourge that is Carbon Monoxide!