Guest blog by Hannah, Hope for the Future.
Hannah is North West Constituency Support Officer at Hope for the Future. Hannah supports constituents in building a relationship with their MP and engaging them on climate change.
At Hope for the Future, we work with people across the country to have real, collaborative conversations about climate change with their elected representatives.
32% of MPs are women, but 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your MP about climate change, to make sure that women’s voices are included in climate decision-making.
So here are my five top tips for a successful meeting with your MP:
Make sure you’ve done your research
Before heading into your meeting, it’s so important to research your MP to understand how they tick. This will help you personalise your message so it really works for your MP. Where is your MP on the political spectrum, and what issues are they most interested in? What have they said in the past about climate change?
Prepare some SMART asks
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. When we talk about SMART asks in a political context, those are specific actions for your MP to go away and do after your meeting. Some examples could be posting on social media to raise awareness and show support for a feminist green new deal, write a letter to George Eustice asking him to regulate the materials in menstrual products or even organise a parliamentary debate on sustainable food.
Build in some motivation
Why should your MP care about this issue? It’s vital to look for personal and local reasons for your MP to care about policy ideas like a feminist green new deal. Showing a local mandate is one way to motivate your MP. That means showing that lots of people in the community also care about the issue you’re highlighting. You could also think about motivating your MP by creating press opportunities or thinking about the co-benefits to climate action. For example, policies that increase cycling can tackle climate change and simultaneously improve air quality, which will improve overall health in the long run.
This is the most important part of successfully lobbying your MP! By listening and connecting with them, you can build up more of a shared sense of trust and wellbeing which will lead to greater collaboration. Whether you’re in your meeting or following up afterwards, make sure to respond to your MP’s concerns and try to understand their perspective. If you can find common ground with them then they’re more likely to take action, so take the time to identify which issues they’re interested in and highlight actions they could take next.
Hopefully you’ve come out of that meeting with a solid commitment from your MP to do the SMART ask you have proposed. Make sure to follow up with an email after the meeting thanking them for meeting with you and confirming any commitments they made.
So that’s the top 5 tips! Meeting your MP can be intimidating but if you bear these tips in mind you’re well on your way to success. If you keep in touch with your MP over time, you can build a deeper collaborative relationship with them which can add up to real policy change in the long term.
Hope for the Future is here to support you to talk to your elected representatives. If you’re not sure where to start, or you’d like our support in the process, come along to one of our training sessions or request 1-to-1 support from your local Constituency Support Officer.