The pursuit of social justice often means working in the margins.

Think back to recent campaigns such as miscarriages of justice, the anti-road and peace protests.

All began in the margins. The people and institutions in the centre ground simply did not want to hear.

On miscarriages of justice, friends and family of those convicted in big cases like the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four campaigned to get their voices heard. The odd journalist and politicians ­— notably John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn ­— helped in many of these cases.

In the end, the subject became mainstream, with a whole structure established to deal with miscarriages of justice. That system today is far from perfect but it has come some way from when those who oversaw the criminal justice system either did not think there were innocent people in prison or more likely that it was better they stayed in prison rather than the truth be known and the whole process be undermined.

The anti-road protests of the 1980s and 90s saw people taking direct action to halt the bulldozers. This was never more evident than on the three-mile odd length of the M11 link road through Wanstead and Leytonstone, where protesters locked themselves to anything that halted the construction from trees to buildings. The politicians were not listening, as more and more of the country went under asphalt. In the end they did listen and the road building programme was stopped.

On peace, there was the Greenham Common protest. The women setting up the camps, taking daily direct peaceful action to stop nuclear warheads being positioned at the site. Wanstead’s own Sarah Hipperson was one of those who went down to Greenham to play a major role in this work. In the end, the missiles went.

All of these examples prove that working in the margins is crucial to obtaining change.

The latest big rebellion is against those in power is over climate change. The youth-led Extinction Rebellion is at the forefront of taking direct action to bring home the importance of seriously addressing the climate catastrophe. They will continue taking these steps until those in the mainstream take the issue seriously and start making the changes needed to save the planet.

What is important, though, is to not lose sight of the need to work with those in the mainstream, in an effort to make that change, Work with the sympathetic politicians and businesses. The politicians can make direct change in the way lives are lived or change the politicians.

All have a part to play. The actions in the margins have to connect with and permeate into the centre.

The only way to progress on issues of social or climate justice is with a broad connected alliance reaching from the margins to the centre. All successful campaigns operate in this way.

In the case of climate, we are in a unique position today, given the growing intergenerational groundswell calling for change.

The enemies of sustainable living will seek to discredit and separate different parts of the alliance, from Extinction Rebellion to outspoken activists like Chris Packham. This must not be allowed to happen.

If the links between the margins and the centre ground can be maintained, then an ever stronger alliance can be built and real change attained. Then in the case of the climate we might just save the world.