THEY are ready to bring a city to a standstill to highlight a global emergency.

The demonstrations in London by Extinction Rebellion has made the country sit up and take notice.

But what was it like to be on the ground, in the heart of the protest as it nears the end of its first week?

Scottish activist Mikaela Loach kept a diary of her experiences throughout the week and here is what she had to say.

Day 1: Taking the Site

It's 5.30am, it's the first official day of the rebellion. I'm excited but so nervous. Will this go to plan?

A friend met me at St James Park station & gave me banners in a large IKEA bag to transport to the site. When I asked what I should do next, he just smiled and said: "sit tight in a cafe until you get a message that it's started." Then he ran off. I found a cafe on Victoria Street to hide out in. Police were all over the streets. I’d never done this kind of stuff before. I was anxious and a bit shaky, checking my phone every few seconds to see if it was time to go yet.

READ MORE: Police Scotland to send 100 officers to London to help police Extinction Rebellion protests

Then the message went out: it was time. We started walking in small groups towards Westminster Abbey. As we reached the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), we saw so many of our friends already glued on to a van and the road, trying to protect our beloved stage from being taken by the police. The roadblock has been successful, the banners were up. We'd made it.

Power In Truth had been created. Extinction Rebellion groups from all over Scotland, Cumbria and the North East of England had collected to set up our camp next to BEIS to tell the truth about the fossil fuel industry. I couldn't quite believe this thing we'd been talking about and planning for months was finally here. It was a long but exciting day.

Day 2: Power In Truth

Waking up in a tent on the road outside of Westminster Abbey is very surreal. I slept surprisingly well. There were a few times in the night where I was worried that the police might wake us up and arrest or move us, but overall – apart from a helicopter flying low over us and waking up the entire camp at 4am – I slept ok. It was another early morning; we were increasing the pressure today.

As the sun rose, 7 people locked on to symbolic oil barrels outside of BEIS. I ran over when the commotion started to livestream what was happening and share why we here. These amazing people stayed locked on all day, blocking entrances to BEIS, which houses the sections of the government in bed with the oil and gas industry, as well as the section which is supposed to be tackling the climate crisis.

Being part of the media team, I had to spend a lot of time pre-rebellion learning about the fossil fuel industry and the government's involvement in it. The heart broke as I heard so many stories of displaced indigenous communities in the Global South, lobbying of governments and the extent to which this corruption penetrated. The shaking rage that filled me at our government's support of these industries – through £10.5 billion in annual subsidies – was released through seeing this action against them coming to flourish. Sharing the truth about the industry to so many people on the streets and through the @xrscotland Instagram helped direct this frustration into action.

By the end of the day, our camp was well established: other groups had come to join us and we had built a stage, had a piano, a kitchen van, many gazebos doing regenerative activities or inductions to XR. There had been People’s Assemblies, training and loads of singing and dancing (which even led to some crowd surfing…). Our camp felt like a little home and I was so proud of everyone for making it.

READ MORE: Thousands of climate protesters bring London to a standstill as Extinction Rebellion start fortnight of action

Day 3: The Day I Nearly Got Arrested

Today, I was very close to being arrested.

It was a choice I made: I chose to lock on (with chains in a thick metal arm tube) to our stage to try and prevent the police from clearing our site. I was there for ~8 hours until the middle of the night.

It’s taken a long time and a lot of thought to have got to the point where I decided to put myself on the line for arrest. Growing up as a marginalised person, I never wanted to step out of line: I never wanted to put into jeopardy the opportunities I’ve been given as I was painfully aware that many of my ancestors were not offered the same. I didn’t want to give anyone any other reasons to restrict opportunities from me. I never thought I would put myself in a position so vulnerable to arrest.

In the morning, I broke down and cried after reading part of the IPCC 1.5 degrees report, which illustrates the absolutely devastating effects that the climate crisis is having – and will continue to have – on nature and communities all over the world. Later, I ended up with my arm chained, anxious, mentally preparing myself for a night in custody and surrounded by police officers trying to intimidate myself and the others locked on next to me.

When I first locked on, I couldn’t stop crying for a long while due to the fact that our government would rather arrest us than listen to us. That the people in power who are meant to have a duty of care over our population, have no interest in listening to the truth which is affecting millions in the Global South already and is soon coming for us all. That I don’t know if I’d want to bring a child into this world if these are the lengths we must go to, to be heard. We shouldn't have to do this.

I wasn’t arrested in the end; we made a choice that we should regroup instead. The police took our beautiful site. I am emotionally drained. But we are still here, we are still standing. We’ve just had to move on to a different plan. The people I’m surrounded with here give me hope and strength and I couldn’t do any of this stuff without them. Seeing many of my friends get arrested, I am so proud of them for using their privilege to defend our site for so long. I'm exhausted but my heart is full of love for them all.

READ MORE: Scottish contingent of Extinction Rebellion aims to occupy fossil fuel targets

Day 4: Regeneration and Reflection

Last night was exhausting: after locking off at midnight I wasn’t able to find the rest of my affinity group (AG)* but thankfully found where they had moved my tent and belongings to in St James’s Park (our new site) and so just passed out in my tent. I woke up still shaky from the night before and all that had happened.

Whilst nothing much happened this day – I spent the rest of it having some time away at my boyfriend’s flat sleeping and calming my nerves – I was profoundly struck by how much these people cared about me. The day before had left me feeling weak and beaten down and needing something, but I wasn’t sure what. Regenerative culture in XR can be so beautiful. As a reaction to how we were feeling, despite there being important meetings that needed to happen, our wellbeing as a team was prioritised. My fragility was met with vulnerability.  A space was created to share exactly how we felt and feel heard. This group of people – who I didn’t even know a month ago – really cared for me. The support was really wonderful.

After this time, there was a lovely moment where my pals and I fed some parakeets and squirrels in St James’s Park: it was as if nature knew we needed some respite and to feel closer to it.

Day 5: Disrupting the Fossil Fuel Conference

The police had moved us on again, this time our camp was Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Fun Fact: this same park was where the suffragists first met!

It was a bit of a gloomy wet morning, but people were itching for action after yesterday’s day of rest. Our group divided: half went to take action against the BBC for lack of coverage of the climate crisis and XR’s action, whilst the other half – including myself – went to protest outside the Andaz London Liverpool Street, where the 6th Government Oil and Gas Fiscal Summit was being held. Spending the morning planning what our messaging for the protest would be, we headed over armed with information on the crimes of this industry and its misinformation.

The road was successfully blocked by people locked on to a barrel, arm tubes or glued on to the road or the doors of the hotel. The atmosphere was incredible and so many members of the public were becoming aware of the severe impact of the fossil fuel industry on indigenous communities and global emissions.

Two of my closest friends in XR glued themselves to the road to prevent the police clearing it. My heart was full of pride seeing them make this sacrifice to maintain our occupation there. Mim (our media coordinator) gave an important speech – whilst glued to the road – explaining why she was there: that 20 firms – many of whom are supported by subsidies from our government – were responsible for a third of emissions; that in the midst of a climate crisis the programme for this conference had no mention of reducing emissions or transition to renewable energy, but instead just talked about profit.

We ended the week with a bang. Many more Scots were arrested. I was so proud of their sacrifice.

Over this week we showed the public and the government that we will not stop until we are listened to. We formed a community. I’ve been thoroughly inspired and renewed with hope by these incredible people. This is just the beginning.

*An affinity group (AG) is a group of people in XR that you get on with well. The idea is that you all do actions together and look out for one another.

Mikaela is a sustainable living and ethical fashion blogger based in Edinburgh where she studies Medicine.

She joined XR Scotland earlier this year. You can find her on Instagram @mikaelaloach.