Tell Your MP what matters to you

Too many of us are accustomed to not having a voice, leaving officials (whom we may or may not have voted for) to make decisions that affect not just our current quality of life, but also our future. Our Tell Your MP pilot project gives people an opportunity to influence how Member of Parliament Julian Robinson uses the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allotted to South East St. Andrew, and to do so with comfort and convenience.

If you live, work or study in South East St. Andrew, you have until January 31 to share ideas for community development projects that mean the most to you. Visit TellYourMP.com.jm to share the problems or opportunities you think are most important, and what you think should be done to address these issues. If you’re a tech-minded, solution-oriented youth, your ideas could win funding from a separate Youth Innovation Grant.

Ordinarily, there are a lot of things competing for the attention of Members of Parliament. Currently, the CDF public consultation meetings provide the main opportunity for citizens to give feedback on proposed community development projects, and propose some of their own. Most people aren’t able to attend these meetings, whether due to location, timing or accessibility, among other reasons. Yet, as the saying goes, ‘it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease’. It’s the people who speak up and do so often who get the attention they seek.

We firmly believe that you should never underestimate the power of your unique perspective on any issue. Just ‘squeak’.

Tell Your MP amplifies your squeak: not only do you get to share your idea, you also get to vote on which ideas should be funded. So far, Tell Your MP has received a range of ideas, from mentorship to environmental improvement. Even if a community project already exists — say for instance a reading programme — you can submit an idea that leads to improvements in how it is delivered, and how lives are changed. It just takes you a few minutes to submit it!

We all know that our government has limited resources. Let’s move past that by contributing where we can. As a citizen, you can be one of those pairs of eyes on the ground to see if something is working as it should be, or, if it’s not yet a thing, that it could work. We do not have to leave it as verandah talk, but with Tell Your MP we can actually take the idea forward.

This project is for everyone, and that’s why the Youth Innovation Grant was also included. If you are 16–30 years old and live in the constituency, you can submit an idea for using technology or data to address a community problem. You could be awarded seed funding, a tablet and a place at the DIA Urban Lab for Youth Innovation, all to help you develop your idea.

Submit your ideas at www.tellyourmp.com.jm before January 31. Don’t miss an opportunity to be heard!