Getting your voice heard: a beginner’s guide to making a difference in the UK

Myfanwy Nixon
Jan 27, 2017 · 7 min read

PART 1: THE BASICS

You might have taken part in the marches last Saturday. Or you might have been amongst the people who objected to them. Either way, the chances are that you’ve been thinking and talking about politics a lot more than usual over the last few days.

Tools for everyone

Here at mySociety, we are politically non-partisan. The tools that we provide are designed to help citizens to gain easy access to democracy. No matter what your political beliefs, whether you’re left wing, right wing or no wing at all, you can use our websites to:

www.writetothem.com
www.theyworkforyou.com
  • Use Google Alerts so you know exactly what your representatives get up to outside Parliament
  • Don’t miss your chance to make a difference with your vote, by finding out when the next elections are, locally or nationally.

How to write to your MP

Let’s start with this fundamental act. For many of us, it’s been a long while since anything moved us strongly enough that we felt impelled to let our MPs know how we feel; perhaps you have never done so before.

Garry Knight (CC-by/2.0)
A list of representatives on WriteToThem.com

Choose the right representative

Once you’ve input your postcode, you’ll see the list of politicians who represent you. Note that each level of government deals with different areas — for example, it’s no good writing to your local councillors about Brexit!

Miles Taylor (CC by-nc-nd/2.0)

Only write to the representatives for your own area

WriteToThem is set up deliberately to make it difficult to contact any MP (or indeed councillors, etc) other than those which represent your constituency.

Lynn Friedman (CC by-nc-nd/2.0)

Make a single, actionable request

For best results, stick to one point per message, and make it very clear what you would like your representative to do. Vote a certain way? Attend a certain meeting? Don’t make them guess.

Use your own words

We know it’s much easier to copy and paste a message from a campaign website, but a message that you write yourself will have infinitely more impact.

Choose your time

In a subsequent post, we’ll show how to use TheyWorkForYou’s alerts so that you make contact with your representative just before an important vote or debate.

One laptop per child (CC by/2.0)

What should I write?

If you are hoping to get things changed, you could write along one of these lines:

  • Your personal experience and how it relates to a current issue: for example, you may be someone affected by recent cuts to welfare benefits, or you might work with people who are suffering because of government policy. A human story which shows the real-life effects of what may have seemed like quite an abstract topic will always have impact.
  • Facts and figures which may help your MP see things in a new light.
  • An invitation to attend a meeting, your workplace, a school or an event so that they can learn more about a specific topic.
  • A question to find out more about how they feel on a certain issue.
  • Positive support for the way they are already speaking and voting — we’ll talk in a later post about why this may be more effective than it seems at first.
Orangejohn.com (CC by-nc/2.0)

How often should I write?

You may feel that there is a lot to communicate at the moment, and that, bearing in mind our advice to keep to a single topic per message, you’d need to write a message a day to your MP to get it all across.

Caroline Gunston (CC by-nc/2.0)

Ready to get started?

That’s quite a lot to get going with already: perhaps you’re ready to mail your MP right now — or share the link to WriteToThem with others who might like to do so.

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