Eco-warrior Ellie Sumpter faced a mini-rebellion of her own when she decided to support the climate change protesters by moving her family into a self-made, nomadic home in a small Gloucestershire woodland.
The mum-of-three is living ‘off grid’ for a fortnight to show solidarity with the climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion who are protesting in London.
But even though she’s a great believer in the climate emergency cause daughter Ivy decided to spend the second night with some friends down the road so she could have a traditional roof over her head.
She spent the first night at the cosy campsite in woodlands outside Nailsworth that Ellie created for the family to live in as part of their bid to support the earth strike.
Her two brothers, two-year-old Osho and Soul, aged 10, are loving the rustic break with Ellie who builds natural temporary shelters from hazel called benders for a living.
‘I’m not going to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do’
“I don’t like living in a house so I am enjoying it and my sons are well happy cooking on the burner,” said Ellie who says the bender is holding up to the rain.
“It’s cold in the morning but most of the time it’s lovely and toasty. My daughter went on the second night. I think it was about privacy rather than comfort, because she likes her own space but she’s back now.
“I have always given my children choices and allowed them to make their own decisions. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any rules. There are lots of rules and they have to play by them. But this one is up to her. It is Rebellion after all.”
Ivy slept in the camp on Saturday but spent Sunday away, returning to the camp with chocolates on Monday for her mum’s birthday when she stayed the night.
Home-schooled Ivy, an eloquent 12-year-old, says she supports XR and tries to live an eco-lifestyle, shunning the usual teen fast fashion labels, but just did not fancy sleeping outdoors on Monday night.
“I just don’t feel like doing it right now,” she said at the time.
“I am different person to my mum but I support what she is doing and the Extinction Rebellion protests in London. My mum brought me up to be independent and make my own decisions so that’s what I did.
“I like my own space and it was nice to be away from my brothers for a night.”
‘It all sounded too much’
The family were originally going to camp in the capital as part of the XR protests but Ellie had doubts about taking them into a crowded city and is also wary about exposing them to large amounts of 5G.
“I was worried about trying to keep an eye on three children in the city.” she explained. “We do a lot of festivals and events so the kids are pretty much used to free roaming in the countryside, but it’s different in the city.
“I’m really proud of what everybody is doing there and I’m sure the kids would have loved being in London with everybody else, but it all sounded a bit too much for me. What do you do if your two-year-old suddenly wants a poo in the middle of Trafalgar Square?
“To be honest in the end it would probably have been easier just to go to London than lugging everything up here in the rain, but I have created my own alternative earth strike. We all have to do something because this is a climate emergency.”
Ellie has also pledged not use a vehicle for two weeks as part of her carbon-free protest, backing protesters who have now been banned from the centre of London.
Although she has lived in a house in Cam for around two years, Ellie has spent most of her adult life travelling in converted vehicles so the children are used to living on the road.
She creates natural chill out areas with benders at festivals, events, weddings and gardens.
No internet at home
Rather than watch TV her children enjoy everything from kayaking to kick-boxing and she does not have the internet at home.
She admits her alternative lifestyle sometimes raises eyebrows but strongly believes it has made her children strong and independent and says Ivy has tried mainstream schooling several times but not enjoyed it.
“Some people can be very judgemental and one time a woman called the police purely because she did not like the way we looked,” she said.
“I was unloading the camper van and she called the police because one of my children had dreadlocks and the other one was wearing tie-dye. The policewoman checking us out was very apologetic.
“But it’s nothing to do with anybody else. I don’t preach to other people about how they live their lives, it’s up to them.”
When she returns home Ellie will start preparing for a trip of lifetime, taking her family around the UK in a horse-drawn showman’s wagon to promote a carbon neutral lifestyle.
Incredibly Soul is hoping to roller blade the 12,000 miles while Ivy, who may get her own caravan, keeps followers up to date with an online blog during the trip.
“I could have done it in a van but I don’t want something that runs on diesel,” explained Ellie.
“I’m talking to someone who makes horse drawn wagons about building one. It will be a real adventure for us.”
A friend said of Ellie: “She is an artist and a warrior. A strong woman that is not afraid of what people think.
“She is stepping outside her comfort zone to show her children how to live in nature.”
While Ellie was making her own one-woman stance to save the environment hundreds of protesters took their battle to the Bank of England and the financial district of the capital.
They blocked roads and brought traffic to a standstill at the start of a second week of protests by targeting the banking sector which they say contributes to climate change.
According to the Metropolitan Police 1,336 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, which started on Monday last week.