On 26 February 2015, a backbench debate about epilepsy took place in parliament. We asked you to contact your Member of Parliament (MP) to ask them to attend. An amazing 1,000 of you contacted your MP! Thank you.
We asked you to let us know if you did get in touch with your MP. Many of you did, and asked what else you could do to campaign. So we have put together this guide to help you:
- Talk to your parliamentary candidates about epilepsy in the run up to the election
- Write to your MP
- Arrange a meeting with your MP
- Become a campaign support volunteer
The general election takes place on Thursday 7 May 2015. This is a great opportunity to get epilepsy on the agenda. These questions can be used at meetings, at your doorstep when you are faced with parliamentary candidates or you could even write a letter to your local newspaper.
- Ask the candidates to call on health and care decision makers in your area to recognise epilepsy and invest in epilepsy services
- Ask the candidates how their party would help people with hidden conditions such as epilepsy find and maintain employment
- Ask the candidates to help make sure that assessors for disability benefits understand epilepsy, and recognise that it is a condition that fluctuates over time
You might have already written to your MP if you asked them to attend the debate on epilepsy. If not, you can find out who your local MP is and their contact details on the parliament website.
You might like to use the questions above to write your letter, or maybe there is a particular issue personal to you that you would like to highlight. Whatever you decide to write about, here’s some advice:
- Include your home address and contact details – MPs can only respond to people in their own constituency area, and they need to know how to get back in touch with you.
- Keep your letter or email to the point – MPs get contacted by lots of people every day. A short, to-the-point letter or email is more likely to have an impact on the reader.
- Tell your story – your story will help explain why you are getting in touch and what you want to happen.
MPs are very busy people, and may not respond immediately. If you haven’t had a reply after a couple of weeks you may wish to telephone their constituency office.
After you have written to your MP, he or she may invite you to have a meeting with them. Alternatively, you might prefer arranging a meeting to writing a letter or email.
To do this, make a telephone call to their constituency office and request to arrange a meeting. A meeting with your MP might only last 10-15 minutes. You may be there with other people and only have a few minutes to actually speak. So you do not need to go with a detailed knowledge, just the things that you feel strongly about. Again, you could use the questions above to make a short list of the main points you want to make.
As with letter writing, MPs respond to personal examples. Tell them your story about the impact that epilepsy has on your life, and the lives of the people around you.
Epilepsy Action actively campaigns to improve epilepsy services and raise awareness of the condition. We would not be able to run our campaigns so successfully without our supporters. The campaign volunteer role brings together people interested in helping us with our campaigns.
What will becoming a campaign support volunteer involve?
You do not need to be an experienced campaigner or have a lot of spare time to get involved in our campaigns. You might be asked to send an email to your MP, write to your local council or share something on Facebook or Twitter. It doesn’t cost anything to become a campaign support volunteer, and you don’t have to be a member of Epilepsy Action to join. Find out more about being a campaign support volunteer.
Don’t forget – please let us know how you get on! Get in touch with the campaigns team. Email us at email@example.com.