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Visit your MP about the NHS

April 22nd, 2011 by

Islington 38 Degrees Members hand in the petition to their MP

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Tens of thousands of us have emailed our MPs urging them to protect our NHS. Now we need to start organising visits so we can talk to them face-to-face and hand in the petition which over 260,000 of us have signed.

It’s pretty easy to organise a visit your MP. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide explaining how to do it:

1. Sign up with 38 Degrees to organise a visit to your MP

It’s important to let staff and volunteers in the 38 Degrees office know that you are organising a visit, so we can be in touch with updates. Take 30 seconds to fill in this quick form. 38 Degrees is a non-party political organisation, so if you represent a political party (for example, if you’re a local councillor, or hold a position within a local party group), please don’t sign up to host an event.

2. Arrange the visit (a few weeks before the visit)

Use the 38 Degrees phone your MP tool to find the name and number of your MP. Then book an appointment, and politely notify your MP’s office that you intend to hand in a petition, and that the press are invited.  There’s more advice on arranging a meeting with an MP here.

3. Pick a good meeting spot nearby

Once you know where and when you are meeting your MP, you need to find a location nearby where you can meet up with other 38 Degrees members before hand. A pub, a cafe, or community centre would be ideal.

Make it somewhere easy to find, and not too busy. If nowhere instantly springs to mind, try searching on the Internet - for example, using a site like Beer in the evening or the Yellow Pages.

4. Tell other 38 Degrees members (ideally at least two weeks before the visit)

Now you need to tell other 38 Degrees members about your visit to your MP – so you’re not alone when you go. It’s quick and easy to do that. Just:

  • Go to the 38 Degrees events hub and enter in the details of when and where you’re visiting your MP and where you should meet beforehand.
  • If you do this the Monday at least 4 days before your visit the 38 Degrees office will be able to email other 38 Degrees members near you and invite them to come with you.
  • Once you’ve added your event to our ‘hub’, we will be in touch with some extra advice  and some materials you might find useful.

5. Confirm the details (a few days before)
It might be worth calling your MP’s office again (using the easy to use 38 Degrees tool to find the name and number) to confirm that you’re coming, to let them know the media might be there, and to confirm that you want to hand in the petition.

6. Tell the local press (optional – a few days before)

  1. MPs pay a lot of attention to local newspapers and radio. So it’s a good idea to invite them to come.
    1. To make this easier we’ve produced a press release you can use.  Some details will need to be amended but it will help you on your way. Or if you are feeling creative you can write your own!
    2. Invite the media to come. Once you’ve got the press release written you can use google to find the websites of your local press – then find the “contact us” section and give them a ring and tell them what you’re doing. (more info below)
  2. Before the event the 38 Degrees office will contact you to let you know how many people in your constituency  have signed the petition
  3. Save Our NHS Poster

    24 hours before the event the 38 Degrees office will automatically email a reminder to everyone who has said they’ll come with you

7. On the day

  1. Meet up with the other 38 Degrees members at your agreed meeting spot
  2. Encourage everyone to introduce themselves and have a quick chat through what is going to happen. Make sure that people understand that they can be as involved as they are comfortable with – some people will want to talk to their MP, others might just want to be in the photo as the ptition is handed in, or to show moral support.
  3. Get to wherever you are meeting your MP ten minutes or so before the time you arranged, leaving plenty of time to liase with the MPs staff and say hello to the media.
  4. Talk to your MP, get photographs taken and talk to any journalists who are there!

8. After the event

  1. It’d be really helpful to share how it went. Post an update on the 38 Degrees blog or Facebook page. Send photos to emailtheteam@38degrees.org.uk
  2. Phone or email journalists. If they covered the event, thank them. If they didn’t, ask politely if there is anything that might persuade them to do so next time.

If you have more questions about visiting your MP, why not visit our Frequently Asked Questions section?

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Visiting Your MP – Frequently Asked Questions

April 22nd, 2011 by

How much time will it take to organise a visit to an MP?

As with everything, this depends on how much effort you feel able to put in – but a basic visit and petition hand in event should not take more than a couple of hours to organise.

Will I have to invite people?

If you add your event to the 38 Degrees events tool by the Monday at least 4 days before the event we’ll send an invite automatically to other 38 Degrees members in your area. It’s always a good idea to ask people you know personally to come via Facebook, email or Twitter as well, but is not essential.

How will I know how many people are coming?
Once you have entered the event into the 38 Degrees events system,  you will be able to check to see how many people have confirmed their attendance.

What will be expected from me at the event?
Everyone who attends is responsible for their own level of involvement. On the day, you should simply turn up at the meeting place on time, make sure everyone finds their way over to the MPs office, and make sure that photos are taken and that everyone gets a chance to speak to the MP if they would like. Of course, if you want to try to convene a local group or organise other events afterwards, that is entirely up to you.

38 Degrees members in Broxtowe deliver the NHS petition to Anna Soubry MP

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Do I have to organise for the local papers and radio to come?

No, but if you can it’s a great if you can as MPs do care what the local media reports.

How will I get my hands on the petition?

Once you have registered your interest in organising an MP visit and petition hand-in, and when you have entered the details into our events hub, 38 Degrees head office will arrange to send you the materials you need.

How do I get the local paper and radio to report the visit?

To maximise your chances of getting good press attendance, spend just a little time on the Internet researching the email addresses of the local press outlets – where possible, don’t just note down the generic email addresses, but see if there are reporters who have covered this kind of story before, and include them too. You can use the press release template we’ve provided and tailor it to our hand in event, or if you are feeling creative, you can write your own. There are some good guides on how to write a press release here: http://www.freelanceuk.com/news/1126.shtml

After waiting a day or two, and if you have the time, ring or email the people you sent the press release to, to confirm that they received it and to ask if they have questions.

38 Degrees members hand in the NHS petition in Rother Valley

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Even if your local press seem unsure if they are interested, make sure to bring your own camera, to take photos both for 38 Degrees and for future use. The press might get in touch a few days later wanting to run the story, having missed it the first time around.

Are these events party-political?
It’s important that 38 Degrees remains entirely non-partisan, and that people from all political backgrounds are welcome to take part in our events. Anyone who is concerned about the issue should be able to attend. MPs are also much more likely to listen when an event includes a wide range of their constituents, and is not dominated by one political party. If you are a member of a political party, please do get involved, but it would be best to leave your party banners and leaflets at home for the day!

Am I expected to know loads of detailed stuff about the issue?
No. The most important thing is that you care about the issue and are able to convey that to your MP. The technical details aren’t as important, although obviously you will want to know enough to explain to your MP why you are concerned – and the more you know, the less easy it will be for your MP to give excuses!

Politicians never answer the question, do they?
It’s true that many politicians are good at giving reassuring answers without committing themselves to anything. However, if you are firm but polite in making your point, and concentrate on trying to get a similarly firm statement from your MP on where they stand, it will be difficult for them to fudge the issue.

How can I get extra advice?
If these frequently asked questions haven’t covered something you feel you need to know, you can ask your question in the comments below, and we will do our best to update the FAQ!

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