In October, CAFOD supporters will be amongst thousands of people Speaking Up to our MPs about how renewable energy can help poor communities and tackle climate change. Yet the idea of lobbying your MP can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before.
Ruth Stanley, CAFOD’s parliamentary officer, spends her days encouraging MPs to support CAFOD’s work in the House of Commons. We asked her to address some of our most common fears about lobbying MPs head-on.
(1) “… but I didn’t vote for them”
If you live in their constituency, your MP represents you. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for them. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them. If doesn’t even matter if you are too young to vote or if you aren’t registered. They represent you, so you have a right to contact them.
Contact your MP to bring power to the people
(2) “… but my MP won’t be interested”
Some issues unite MPs across party lines. The need to tackle global poverty is one of them. So is climate change and caring for the environment. Don’t prejudge how your MP will respond. These issues matter to people from all different backgrounds and beliefs, so why wouldn’t they also matter to your MP?
(3) “… but MPs get hundreds of letters and emails, mine won’t get noticed”
In 2011, CAFOD supporters joined Teatime for Change, where MPs and constituents chatted about how to tackle poverty over a cuppa and a slice of cake. In keeping with the theme, campaign messages were printed on mugs and iced on cakes. And, years later, many MPs still remember them! You don’t have to go that far. A personal, polite and well thought through letter or request for a meeting, which shows how your concern relates to their constituency, will stand out.
Organise an event as part of the week of action
(4) “…but I won’t know what to say”
If you are contacting your MP as part of a CAFOD campaign, there’s always information available to swot up on. But the reasons why your faith and your life experience inspire you to care about an issue are enough, MPs won’t expect you to be a policy expert. Start with what you’ve got in common, and take it from there.
Ready to give meeting your MP a try? See how you can take part in The Climate Coalition week of action (8-16 October).