Ffion Dean is the CAFOD Web Editor. Speak Up for the Love Of will be her first lobby and the first time she’s met her local MP.
Climate change is an issue which really concerns me. It’s going to cause problems for lots of things I care about from spring flowers to people overseas living in harsh climates. I signed up to meet my MP at the climate change event on 17 June as soon as I heard about it. Using the form on the CAFOD website I also emailed my MP to make sure he would be there.
Last week he emailed back to say he’d be available to meet me. And then I got scared.
I’ve never met him before and I don’t know what his views are on climate change. What if he’s a climate change denier and we argue all afternoon? What if he asks me difficult questions? What if he’s not very nice to me?
Fortunately I received the Climate Coalition briefing guide today with tips on what to say to my MP and I also work in a building with lots of experienced campaigners. Here is some of their advice.
Try and get your MP to come
Use the form on the CAFOD website to tell your MP you’d like to meet them at Speak Up for the Love Of. If you don’t hear back try another way of getting in touch – phone their office or tweet them.
The most useful advice I had from colleagues was to spend some time preparing before 17 June.
First off, research who your MP is and what they look like – this could help avoid an embarrassing first encounter! Then use the they work for you website to research what they’ve said about climate change. This will help you work out where you need to start your conversation.
Read the briefing guide then note down the key points you want to get across and include a few questions for the MP. You could base it on our five top tips of what to say to your MP.
When you get there
Politicians are infamous for sidestepping difficult questions so listen carefully and if you’re not satisfied with their answer, ask again. If they’re drifting off-topic don’t be afraid to drag the conversation back to what you want to talk about.
Don’t be scared!
My colleague Dom had a great piece of advice for anyone (like me) worried about meeting their MP for the first time – MPs are human too! They’re your representative in parliament so they’re duty-bound to listen to your opinion. But if they’ve made the effort to come and see you, chances are they’re going to be respectful and polite, even if they don’t agree with you.
The leaders of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats signed an agreement to work together to tackle climate change before the election so climate change should be on your MP’s radar already.
17 June is going to be a great event – it will be a chance to talk to your MP and also to meet other people from your constituency who are passionate about climate change. There’s also going to be an ecumenical service, workshops, street entertainment and an art installation.
Once you’ve got over the excitement of the big day, don’t forget to follow up with your MP. Email to thank them for meeting you and remind them what you discussed. If they said they would take any actions, such as writing to their party leader, ask them to let you know when they’ve done it.
Are you coming to Speak Up for the Love Of on 17 June? Have you lobbied before? Have you decided what you want to say to your MP? Leave your tips in the comments below!