#WeAreCreative: Engaging with your local MP
Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected politicians who represent you in the House of Commons. It is their job to listen to people in their community and act in their best interests when scrutinising UK Government and debating laws.
An MP is often extremely busy dealing with many issues at the same time, but they are obliged to listen and respond to those in their constituency. This is why we need your help: your voice will be heard.
Many people have never engaged with their MP before, so we’ve created this guide to help you, providing hints, tips and advice to make sure that you are able to open up a conversation with your local politician that is beneficial to both of you.
How to find out who your MP is
There is an MP for each constituency, or local area, and it is their job to help support the people who live within their geographical boundary. You can easily find out who your local MP is by typing your postcode or location into the ‘Find your MP’ search bar.
If you are based in more than one constituency, it is perfectly fine to reach out to multiple MPs!
Contacting your MP
Contacting your local MP, and beginning to open up a relationship with them, can garner support and publicity for your organisation and work. It can also help you to inform and shape the decisions that your MP makes which will affect your community.
Most MPs will nearly always respond to a letter or email from their constituents. You can find your MP’s email address on their biography page, which you can search for in the ‘Find your MP’ link above. If you would like to write a letter to your MP, their constituency postal address can also be found at the link above.
Top tips for writing to your MP:
Don’t forget to include your contact details, which should include your email address and home address and postcode. This is so that your MP is sure that you are a member of their constituency and knows how to reach out in response. It is a good rule of thumb to just use the phrase: “As one of your constituents…”.
Do check how to address your MP. Check your MP’s title so that you can refer to them correctly. This information can be very easily found in each MP’s biography.
How to organise an event with your MP
There are multiple approaches you can take to directly engage with your MP. For example, you can organise a personal appointment, where you meet your MP as an individual constituent. If you have a little more time, you could bring together a diverse group of local creatives, as this helps demonstrate that you’re not a lone voice and that the issue really matters to people in their constituency. You can organise an in-person event or a ‘Zoom tour’ of local creative businesses and freelancers, so they can meet the vast range of creative practitioners and businesses that comprise their creative constituency,
If you can, get creative with your event! MPs love to do interesting things that they do not usually have the opportunity to experience, particularly if it enables them to tell stories about what goes on in their constituency. It can also be a really powerful way to bring the impact and potential of the creative industries to life (and is great for a press photo opportunity – see below). There is only so much that we can communicate through statistics and evidence – seeing and experiencing is key.
When meeting with your MP, the most important things to remember are:
- Be prepared and punctual
- Explain why the issue is important to you and your local community
- Be specific about how your MP can help and what action you’d like them to take. (Make sure they also have this in writing to take away).
As MPs are Members of Parliament, their work weeks adhere to the Parliamentary week. Parliament is usually in session from Monday to Thursday, so your MP will likely be in Westminster during this time (although due to the pandemic, they may be attending remotely). If you would like to invite your MP to an event in your constituency, the best time is either a Friday or Saturday morning.
However, Parliament will go on a break (known as recess) between 22 July 2021 and 18 October 2021. This means that your MP will be around on any day of the week, unless they are undertaking Parliamentary business (or taking some time off for holiday).
Please note, if your MP is also a Minister (this will be clear on their dedicated page on gov.uk) they will be particularly busy. It may then be a good idea to give a slightly longer notice period for the event, as their diary might be extremely full!
If you don’t hear back from your MP after a week, chase up your invitation by email and phone. Their offices will expect this and it will help prompt them to respond quickly.
Sending the invitation
It is usually a good idea to invite your MP to an event with at least three to four weeks’ notice. When sending the invitation, it’s best if you can be really clear about how the event or conversation is rooted in issues faced by their constituency, such as how the creative and cultural sector local has responded to the needs of their communities in response to the pandemic, created jobs or developed and retained talent. MPs tend to be invited to quite a few events, so the invitations with a clearly stated constituency angle will be more successful.
Consolidating the invitation
After your MP has confirmed attendance, it is really important to follow up with specific details that they need to know. This might include:
- An itinerary of the online or in-person meeting / visit
- Contact details of a person on the day whom the MP (or their office) can call if they have any last-minute questions or issues
- A background note about your organisation(s) and biographies of those involved
- Whether the press have been notified of the event (see below)
- Location details with a small amount of transport advice (if the event is in person)
Press and social media
MPs love positive publicity – they’re always looking for opportunities to demonstrate to their constituents that they’re supporting them and those in their area.
- Send a note to the local press a week before the event (either the news editor or arts correspondent will be a good first point of call), letting them know it’s taking place and inviting them to send a photographer.
- Make sure you take plenty of photos yourself and use them on social media, using the hashtag #WeAreCreative
- Tag the MP and encourage them to retweet from their channels
Say Thank you!
Send a follow up email or letter after your event to thank your MP for taking the time to meet with you. This is a great opportunity to remind them (briefly) of what was discussed and to re-iterate the key points you’d like them to take away. If they agreed to take any follow-up actions, like signing up to the Creative Industries Pledge, this is also a good moment to (graciously) remind them!