You don’t have to be an expert. The important thing is showing your MP you care about an issue.
We do have a handy Talking Points with some suggestions for points to make to your MP about the campaign and why it matters.
1. Before the meeting starts, decide who will do what
You could divide up roles like this:
- one person to introduce the purpose of the meeting, to explain which individuals and groups are taking part and to thank the MP at the end;
- one person to make sure everything keeps to time and that everyone who needs to gets a chance to speak;
- one person to take notes and to share them with everyone afterwards, including your MP.
If you don’t have lived experience of poverty, but other people in your group do, ask them if they would like to speak. No one should feel pressured to speak if they don’t want to, or to share sensitive personal information, but it is very powerful for MPs to hear from people with direct experience.
It’s absolutely fine if not everyone wants to speak – if there are lots of people in the meeting, there won’t be time anyway! Just being there shows your MP how many people care.
Tip: Choose one or two people to speak at the start of the meeting to make the main points that you want to get across to your MP, then give the MP an opportunity to respond, before allowing everyone who wants to ask questions to join in.
2. Keep it polite and to-the-point
Meeting your MP is likely to take about half-an-hour.
Appeal to the values that you share with your MP and between different local groups. What you all have in common is a desire to improve the lives of people in your local area.
It’s okay to be passionate! This is something that we care about deeply. But make sure that you stay polite as well. This will make your MP more likely to listen.
Try to make your points concisely and clearly – jot down some notes in advance to help you stay on trace. If there are things you don’t have time to say, you can follow up by email afterwards.
What to say to your MP
Explain why you care about child poverty. Focus on what we can agree makes a good childhood – enough to eat, a safe place to live, good education and the chance for children to pursue the things they love. Remind your MP that, through no fault of their own, millions of children are missing out on these things and are forced to live with the shame of poverty. It’s not fair that our children should suffer because we, as a society, don’t put their needs first.
You can find levels of child poverty for your own area on this map, but it will have more impact if you tell your MP:
- stories from local people about their own experience of poverty
- the observations of teachers, foodbank volunteers or others who work with children
- and the reasons why you care.
Explain what needs to change. Focus on what the Government can do to support the public services that we all rely on, not on individual family situations. Remember that people have designed the way that society works, so people can change it too!
Tip: Don’t worry if your MP asks you something and you don’t know the answer! Just say you’ll find out and will get back to them after the meeting. You don’t have to be an expert in everything.
Send your MP our briefing This briefing sets out what we’re asking MPs and the Chancellor to do
3. Don’t panic about the tech
We’re all still getting used to online meetings and sometimes things go wrong! If your MP is late, your internet drops out, you mic stops working or the doorbell rings, don’t worry, just be ready for someone else in the group to quickly take over if need be.
Tip: If possible, ask to take a screenshot at the end of the meeting, including your MP, which can be shared on social media. If anyone does not want their face to be shown, ask them to turn off their camera for the photo.