From the London Evening Standard, 25 May 2016. Story by Tom Marshall.
A sea of empty shoes filled the pavement in Whitehall today as part of a silent demonstration by sufferers of ME and chronic fatigue sydrome.
The “#MillionsMissing” protest outside the Department of Health was part of an international day of action highlighting the plight of people with the conditions – and calling for more help and greater funding from governments.
Activists remained completely silent, some wearing gags over their mouths, as they protested alongside the pairs of shoes from midday to 2pm.
The tagline and the empty footwear referenced the fact that millions of people are missing from their careers, schools, social lives and families across the globe due to the debilitating symptoms of the disease, the organisers said.
The two-hour protest was part of an international day of action which is also seeing demonstrations in cities across the US, Canada and Australia.
Ollie Cornes, who was unable to attend the protest due to his condition but sent a pair of shoes, said: “We’re just patients fed up waiting for research funding to get anywhere close to reflecting the levels of disability caused.
“I’m 43 years old and have been sick for 17 years since a flu-like infection.
“I had a career as a software engineer, writer, entrepreneur and landlord and most days I am now too sick to leave the house and bought a wheelchair. My 69-year-old mother is hugely more physically active than me.
“The treatments the NHS provides are so ineffective as to be a waste of time and can be very harmful, which is why we are protesting at the Dept of Health.
“I couldn’t go, so a pair of red baseball shoes took my place.”
Millions Missing protests are also taking place in Washington DC, Belfast, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Raleigh, San Francisco, Seattle and Melbourne.