As a society today, versus say 15, 30 or 50 years ago, there is a higher awareness of the need to include different people – and certainly not to exclude them. Companies, universities and organisations have DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) as key objectives within their cultures – and a lot of time and effort is spent on this. Even wider society is now more acknowledging of differences, that we are none of us the same. There is no ‘normal’, as everyone has a set of different preferences, needs, challenges and illnesses they are living with. These are often unseen.
Many people are adversely affected by fireworks and yet society does not include their needs in the lack of regulation we have around fireworks. I remember a lady who got in touch with us, whose husband is a war veteran. He almost died in combat and she finds it so distressing to see him go clammy and shake when fireworks go off. The sounds, the smells all trigger the distress. A young man who was involved in an explosion at a building. Every time fireworks go off, it reminds him of the blast and triggers the fear, the distress of a former traumatic experience.
The examples are never-ending and on different scales and to different degrees. For those that don’t suffer anxiety but find that when they go off day after day – as they did over Christmas and New Year last year in some areas – that the relentless nature of the bangs starts to become stressful. For pet owners it becomes a dreaded and upsetting event, watching their animals terrified. Frankly something as simple as needing to let them go out and do their business becomes a nightmare as you never know when one will go off, night after night. Trying to work out the best time to do it becomes like navigating a minefield. I know one lady whose dog is so scared she won’t go outside and so does her business inside the house – even for days after fireworks. The distress of the pet is one also passed onto the caring pet owner.
I have met people who are scared of fireworks and won’t go out at night over the winter months in case they go off, others who don’t like the noise. I heard from a mother whose daughter screams and asks for them to stop and can’t sleep because of them. Babies awoken from their sleep. Some people with autism, dementia, hyperacusis, PTSD, people who come to the UK from war zones such as Ukraine as well as those who simply want peace and quiet as they battle with other challenges of life. Why do so many people have to live like this?
What I have heard from people, such as the lady whose husband trembles in fear every time fireworks go off, is that they ‘don’t want to ruin other people’s fun’. I hear it so often. The people who suffer are concerned about those having fun. And yet I don’t hear many of the people ‘having fun’ considering their impact on those who suffer distress. It just seems totally wrong, totally outdated in a society where you can complain if your neighbour makes noise, where there is an appreciation that noise is distressing, that people should consider the needs of neighbours and yet the insane, out-of-date laws around fireworks, don’t include the needs of the so many for whom fireworks are frankly no fun at all. A neighbour having a party affects a few neighbours, the law supports us with that, but fireworks affect hundreds and thousands of people as the thundering bangs carry such a long way.
It’s simply NOT inclusive as a society to expect people as mentioned above to have to suffer, literally suffer, as the result of other people’s actions. Not when there is an easy solution to prevent it. It’s outdated and it belongs to the era of 50 or 100 years ago, not to today.
We have had debates in parliament over and over again. The MPs have put up good arguments that cross the needs of different people, animals and the environment. The government simply does not listen. But in a democratic society, governments do need to listen. They do need to be inclusive and should not allow the rights of a few to disturb the peace and calm of so many around them.
Sadly, it’s the weekend of November 5th and yet fireworks will continue around the country over the coming months. To those who want change we say please keep going. The momentum is there with the signatures and the charities now pushing. Keep signing and sharing petitions, write to your MP, write to your local council, share blogs like these so that more people know others share their views.
- Sign and share petitions. This fireworks petition ends in Dec 2022 and is a recent one, so please sign and share to show support for those in society who have often stayed quiet about their pain
- Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
- There have been 5 debates, 6 petitions with over 100,000 signatures each, a Petitions Committee inquiry and the Government needs to listen. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the Government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public. Or you can use the RSPCA template
- Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow.
- Ask your friends and neighbours not to let fireworks off or if they insist to at least use low noise fireworks which are available from most firework suppliers
- Read more blogs on the impact of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs, how even Christmas is no longer a time of peace and why fireworks are a nuisance and the law should change.