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.
Libby Abbott, Campaigns Coalition Manager at CAFOD, tells us how witnessing an act of kindness from a supporter on the Paris metro has inspired her to Show the Love and tackle climate change.
In December, I had the privilege to travel with 21 CAFOD campaigners to Paris as part of the UN COP21 – where world leaders met and agreed a binding deal to tackle climate change. We had an incredible time bearing witness and participating in mass mobilisations around the Eiffel Tower.
We also had some very meaningful exchanges with Parisians. On the Paris metro, one campaigner, Jane, noticed a woman staring at a badge she was wearing. The badge was a heart made of green felt with the word ‘families’ embroidered across the front.
Jane explained to the Parisian that it represented families all over the world who would be affected by climate change. She then unpinned the green heart from her coat and gave it to the woman to keep. Looking back to me she said, ‘I guess I’ll just have to make another one for myself!’
Our fantastic young climate bloggers have had a busy month campaigning and raising awareness – so much to celebrate! Several groups attended the lobby of parliament last month. Toby, from All Saints, describes the visit to parliament as follows:
Seven students from All Saints travelled down to the Houses of Parliament to discuss climate change with their MPs and what they were going to do about it. We began our day with two of our students attending the ecumenical service at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster. They helped carried two pieces of a broken heart that fitted together. The heart stood for the motto of the lobby, “…for the love of…”.
The crack in the heart was to show what we as humans are doing to the earth. Later we made our way to the Houses of Parliament to rally with our local MPs and discuss the issues and solutions to climate change.
Some students from St James had time to reflect on the lobby and its relevance to the Pope’s encyclical, which was published the day immediately after the lobby.
The opening paragraph of the encyclical sets the tone for the whole document: the Earth “is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking that we were her owners and dominators, authorised to loot her. The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things.” Pope Francis, June 2015.