If you are part of a group, don’t forget to check if any of your members belong to a local political party. Local party activists can raise issues at ward meetings and put forward resolutions, which then go to councillors of the same party. Be careful, though, not to allow your group to become identified too closely with one political party, always aim for cross party support – this is a particularly important point for Epilepsy Action Branches as they are working under a charitable status and must avoid party political issues.
For details of your nearest Epilepsy Action branch, contact the Regional Services Officers on 0113 210 8800 or visit our website www.epilepsy.org.uk/services
Lobbying your Member of Parliament
Members of Parliament (MPs), Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and Members of the Welsh Assembly (Ams) can sometimes be a powerful influence on those making local decisions. They can write to represent your views or ask questions of trusts, managers of social services, education and health authorities and local benefits offices. They can also bring publicity to your case as the local media is always interested in the local MP’s views and activities.
You can find out who your local MPs are and how to contact them through the local Citizens Advice Bureau, public library, town hall or online www.parliament.uk (MPs), www.scottish.parliament.uk (MSPs), www.wales.gov.uk (AMs).
Inviting your MP to a meeting
In the first instance, contact your MP’s constituency office and ask for an appointment to speak to your MP on the phone. You can then explain the situation and invite him/her to a meeting. MPs though will only take up issues from their own constituents.
- Do not argue on a party political basis – seek to persuade, not to confront.
- Be clear on your facts and keep to the point.
- Include personal experiences – this will make the most impact.
- Ask if he/she is a member of the All Party Group for Epilepsy. If not, you could suggest they join. For information about joining, they would need to contact Sharon Harvey on 01943 871852 for Westminster or Welsh Assembly or Allana Parker on 0141 427 4911 for the Scottish Parliament.
Writing to your MP
If you can’t organise a visit from your MP, you could instead write to them.
- If several people are writing to the same MP, it is better to make the letters individual and not copies of each other – provide different personal examples.
- Be factual.
- Present your problem clearly and say what you would like the MP to do about it.
You can write to MPs at their constituency office or at the House of Commons, London SW1A OAA. You can also contact them online www.writetothem.com