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2012: A People Powered Year

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As a memorable year draws to a close, I thought we'd get in the end-of-year-review spirit and look at some of the biggest people-powered campaigns of 2012.

These are a just a few examples people coming together to make a difference in 2012. There are thousands more and every single one had a story behind it which captured the imagination of those who supported it. Its very easy to think that you are powerless or that your voice will never make a difference. In fact, now more than ever, the opposite is true. Here's to a people-powered 2013.

Hillsborough families close in on justice
It's difficult to imagine the heartbreak of waving off your family and friends as they leave for a football match and then watching a horror like Hillsborough unfold in front of you on TV. When a tragedy like this happens you expect the full force of government and the media to be right behind you.

The families of the 96 who died at Hillsborough were denied this most basic decency. A series of lies and cover ups turned a hideous tragedy onto one the greatest injustices of our lifetime. Who knows whether justice would ever have been served without the tireless and dogged campaigning of the families left behind. As a single in aid of their campaign sits at number one in the charts, it's a pertinent time to reflect on just what they've had to go through.

Mums are the word as extradition law is put in the dock
Never take on a mum when she's angry. That's certainly true of Janis Sharp and Julia O'Dwyer whose sons have lived under the shadow of extradition for 10 years and two years respectively.

2012 saw both extraditions dropped after hard fought and inspiring campaigns by both women.

Girl-powered games puts female athletes on the front page
Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation boss Sue Tibballs told the Independent that: "The London Olympics and Paralympics were the greatest Games for women ever" and few could argue.

Triumphs for team GB's women inspired a huge and spontaneous celebration of women's sport driven in part by the WSFF's #gogirl hashtag. In 2012 the BBC was criticised for having no women on its Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. The 2012 list had five.

Brian May's leads a badger rhapsody
Queen guitarist turned astrophysicist and badger fan Brian May spent much of 2012 sticking it to the government over plans to cull badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB. Thousands signed the petition, and our black and white furry friends became huge stars. After a huge campaign the cull was postponed, leaving the door open for save the badgers episode two in 2013.

Thousands get their signatures out for no more page 3
Lucy Holmes picked up a copy of the Sun in August, looking forward to reading about Jessica Ennis' olympic heroics. But while Jessica's pic was there , the biggest image of a woman in the paper was of a page three model in just her pants. Lucy was furious and started a petition on Change.org, a Twitter account and a Facebook page. 60,000 people signed and a full blown people-powered movement was created.

(as voted for by Reuben Turner)

Starbucks buckles over tax dodging
'All in it together' has become a much-derided sentiment - highlighted by the huge backlash against tax-dodging companies. In 2012 people had enough - and not just the usual activist groups. It seemed that a majority of UK taxpayers reached the end of their collective tether on tax - and Starbucks' high street ubiquity put them front and centre of a huge consumer backlash.

After a public grilling in front of the Public Accounts Committee and organisations from ActionAid to UK Uncut exposing how tax dodgers hit the poorest hardest, Starbucks offered to do deal with HMRC. To many this was simply an empty gesture - but it sure showed the impact of people power.

Schoolgirl's lunch blog causes 24 hour twitter storm and a long term legacy
When nine year old Martha Payne started a blog about her school dinners, her local council decided to would play a panto-villain version of 'bureaucrat' and ban it. Twitter was outraged (of course) and after a number of hamfisted attempts at crisis management by Argyll and Bute council the decision was overturned.

A lesser campaigner may have stopped there - but Martha's blog raised tens of thousands of pounds and she visited Malawi to help build a kitchen in a school there.

Government forced to eat humble pie over pasty tax
When the government announced plans to charge VAT on warmed baked goods (including pasties) snackers everywhere were duly outraged. So was born the campaign against the 'pasty tax' - a loose coalition of bakers, takeaways and other campaigners which forced the government to think again.

Online project shines a light on Everyday Sexism
If you're under the impression that gender equality has finally won out in the UK, a few minutes following @everydaysexism is a stark reminder of the little things that reveal sexism is very much alive. Crowdsourced via Twitter and email from thousands of followers, Everyday Sexism tells peoples' stories of, well, the sexism they encounter everyday.

(a favourite of Rebecca Mcleod)

250,000 call for Nobel for Malala
One girl's fight for education for all hit the headlines after she was in the head by a Taliban gunman as punishment for her campaign. Malala Yousafzai captured the hearts of the world and a petition was launched to have her nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel for Malala campaign has received worldwide media coverage and the accompanying petition has over a quarter of a million signatures, driven in the UK by Shahida Choudhry, who herself was taken to Pakistan and denied an education from the age of 16.

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