As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown, the question on many people’s minds is how do we bring about a ‘new normal’? What does this ‘new normal’ even look like? One thing is certain, no matter what ‘normal’ is in place, there are many challenges ahead that individuals or communities will face. If you are not a policy maker, but you want to bring about change, you often need to campaign.
For many people, the word ‘campaigning’ might suggest something that is daunting, complicated and requires lots of expertise. In reality, it’s much simpler. Campaigning is working in an organised way towards a social or political goal. It’s a unifying and empowering process, centred around action, that anyone can contribute to, no matter what their background, skillset or experience.
Campaigning isn’t just about grabbing your placards, marching to London, and banging on the doors of UK Parliament. There are other ways. Letter writing, protests, marches, petitions; these are all common campaigning activities. But the creative process of campaigning opens up endless possibilities as to how you spread your message and gain support: using theatre to share a message, sowing seeds as a symbol of growth, or posting an image to share on social media, and these are just some examples. Of course, there are a lot of skills that make up a successful campaign, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t campaign if you’ve never done it before.
A simple first step to highlighting issues and instigating change is to approach your local politicians. This can be to communicate an issue that you or your community is facing or to seek political support. In fact, Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right to take part in the government themselves or through those they have elected to represent them. But for many, contacting a local councillor or MP may seem challenging, especially if you haven’t always felt listened to. It’s important to remember that local politicians are elected serve their community. Their job is to listen to your issues, protect your rights and to promote your needs in the local council or UK Parliament. Learning how to work and effectively communicate with your local politicians will help you and your community tackle the issues affecting you.
Just Fair’s new Talk.Act.Change guide has been created to help you feel more confident with how, when and why you can contact local politicians. It explains the roles of MPs, councillors, and local authorities, what issues they can help with and how to contact them. There is a handy ‘tips and tricks’ section to help you be prepared and be clear when speaking to your local councillor or MP. It also includes an example letter to a councillor to help you write your own.
It is easy to feel like change is out of our control. But our voices won’t be listened to if we don’t make them heard. Download our free Talk.Act.Change guide to local politicians and take more control of the change you want to see.
Just Fair is a human rights charity that monitors and campaigns for economic and social rights in the UK. You can find out more at http://justfair.org.uk/.
This blog was first published on VONNE in June 2020.