XR activists dressed as cleaners protest Crouch End Barclays

Protestors dressed as cleaners speaking into microphone on high street

XR activists urged people to change banks on the weekend, following Barclays' investment in fossil fuel companies. - Credit: XR Muswell Hill

A group of 15 Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists dressed as cleaners sang songs and handed out flyers at Crouch End's Barclays branch. 

The campaigners protested against Barclays' investment in fossil fuel companies to coincide with the bank's national AGM in Manchester on Saturday, April 30.

Barclays is the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe, and fourth biggest in the world. It invested $144.9 billion in fossil fuels from 2016-20, according to The Banking on Climate Chaos report.

But Muswell Hill XR said: "Most people do not realise that Barclays’ claims to have green policies are far from the truth – in particular, their funding of planet-friendly projects are minute relative to their increasing investments in fossil fuels."

Blue, white and black banner saying 'move your money' on metal fence next to building site

Banner outside Barclays' Crouch End branch. - Credit: XR Muswell Hill

Annabel Gregory, 72, from Alexandra Park, is a member of the group and attended the protest on Saturday. She said the Muswell Hill arm of XR is made up of local people from a wide range of ages.

She dressing as cleaners is a common approach for the organisation, adding: "The idea is that because these banks invest in fossil fuels, they are dirty banks, so you go to clean them.

"The customers were quite interested and concerned, and also amused. I think one advantage of doing entertaining cleaners is that it doesn't actually get people's backs up."

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She said the staff were slightly worried by their presence, but mostly left them to it. The police were called because employees incorrectly thought the protestors had spilled something on the floor. Three officers turned up but left soon after.

The group sang a song to catch the attention of passers by. It was to the tune of Down in the Jungle, a children's song, and was used at XR protests across the UK on Saturday.

The lyrics to the first verse are: "There’s a bank on the high street that everyone knows. But have you ever wondered where your money goes? Barclays takes our money and breaks the rules, investing in climate-wrecking fossil fuels."

Activist dressed as a cleaner outside Barclays bank

The group sang a song to the tune of Down in the Jungle, which is a kid's song. - Credit: XR Muswell Hill

A Barclays spokesperson said: “We are aligning our entire financing portfolio to support the goals of the Paris Agreement – significantly scaling up green financing, directly investing in new green technologies and helping clients in key sectors change their business models to reduce their climate change impact.

"Barclays has already facilitated £62bn of green finance."