A WORLDWIDE 'free-choice' movement against lockdowns has come to north Cumbria.

Stand In The Park, a movement which originated in Australia, has become synonymous for protesting against lockdowns and government regulations following the pandemic.

Every Sunday, groups in 20 countries dress themselves in their signature yellow, bringing together members to take a united stand in local parks as they look to champion ‘freedom, diversity and fairness for all’.

This Sunday morning will see the latest Penrith Stand in The Park take place at Castle Park.

The Carlisle ‘Stand’, which takes place at Bitt’s Park, and Penrith are among the 1,000 towns globally to sign up to the meets.

The group claims 100,000 members worldwide. 

But once the announcement of the latest ‘Stand’ was posted to Penrith Cumbria community group on Facebook yesterday, it was met with a chorus of disagreement from members slamming the Facebook post as ‘anti-vaccine’.

One person commented: “You don’t stand in my name”, one questioning as to exactly which “freedom they are fighting for”, with another asking for the post to be removed for representing misinformation when it comes to Covid-19.

However, other commenters expressed support for the group's message and beliefs.

One person commented: "Carlisle is a bit further for me to travel, so this is perfect".

The group seeks to promote 'freedom of choice' for all when it comes to the vaccine - promoting both vaccinated and unvaccinated within its membership.

The movement's meets are not about being 'anti-vax', but more to offer a setting for camaraderie and shared beliefs. 

Covid vaccines have remained a source of controversy since they first appeared at the end of 2020.

Cumbria’s director of public health Colin Cox said: “I’m in favour of free-choice when it comes to the vaccine but, I do think everyone should get it. 

“The choice here is clear, especially when you look at the impact that vaccinations have had in reducing serious health events and mortality rates from Covid-19. 

“If people compare the number of people dying previously to before we had the vaccine available to that of now, I think it makes the choice of getting it a very obvious one.

“I’d really encourage every one to do so,” he said.