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How to contact your MP

As we prepare for the launch of our Access and Environmental Charter later this year, we need your help to lobby MPs and campaign for better access.

Engaging with your Member of Parliament (MP)

As part of the 4 year strategy, Stronger Together, British Canoeing will be launching a new Access and Environment Charter to ask Government to address the issue of the lack of fair, shared and sustainable access onto our waterways.

The Charter is planned to be launched this September and it is hoped that members, clubs and the wider paddling community will get behind it by championing the cause locally. This may be arranging a face to face meeting or inviting them along to your event or club activity.

Even better would be inviting your MP along to join a clean-up event on your local waterway!

Talking directly to your MP about how access issues affect you will be absolutely critical in raising the profile of our cause in Government. To support you in in this, British Canoeing will be making more information on principles of the Charter available soon.

In the meantime, here are some basic general pointers to consider:

How to contact your MP

You can find details about how to contact your MP on the Parliament website:

www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps

Most MPs spend most of their week in Parliament, and usually in their constituency on Fridays. The majority of MPs host ‘surgeries’ either by appointment or drop-in sessions where they listen to local peoples’ concerns.

Getting in Touch

We suggest emailing your MP to request a meeting and following up with a call a week later to their constituency office if you receive no response.

Whether you send an email or letter, make sure the message is clear and concise to ensure a faster response. See Appendix 1 for a draft email/letter you can use and adapt. Alternatively, pick up the phone to the MP’s office and book an appointment.

There are 3 key things you need to include when you contact your MP:

  • Tell them who you are, your address and what you are contacting them about.
  • Explain how the issue of a lack of access to and along the water has impacted on you and the rest of the constituency.
  • State clearly how you would like them to help and make a specific ask for action.

Make the issue of access relevant to your constituency

Your MP will also want to know how national issues are impacting on the local canoe club. For example, you have been challenged on your rights to paddle by other users when paddling your beautiful local river – nationally this is a major problem and conflicts often occur on other waters where access is contested leaving only 4% of waterways in England and Wales uncontested. How has the lack of access prevented you or anyone else from participating?

Talk about the positives!

MP’s will want to hear what about the positive things our sport brings and what you, your club or your group are doing. Why is canoeing good for their community? Talk about any environmental action you have undertaken such as river clean ups, or support you are giving to young people or groups within the local community. We need to raise the profile of our sport at all levels, so this is your chance to make the case for canoeing being great!

Ask your MP to take action

Consider what you want to share – your experiences are your most valuable asset. Give some options for solutions that will work i.e. contents of the Charter so your MP understands what matters to you and gives them further reason to support you and British Canoeing.

Find out more about your MP – doing research to find out which issues your MP is particularly passionate about, and what they’ve spoken in public about. It may also give you an insight into how they feel about the issues of access to our natural environment. He may even be a paddler!

Here are places you can research:

Make the most of your meeting

  • Ask your MP to sign up to support the Charter
  • Get a photograph with them and post on social media (and send it to British Canoeing Communication Team)
  • Invite your MP to a local event
  • Ask your MP if they would consider sending a press release to the local newspaper about the meeting. They may blog about the meeting
  • Offer to keep your MP updated with progress of the Campaign
  • Ask your MP if they would be willing to be contacted by British Canoeing for further information and support the campaign in Westminster

ACTIONS IN PARLIAMENT

You can ask your MP to:

  • Formally write to a minister and raise an issue on your behalf
  • Advocate on your behalf to local agencies
  • Sign an Early Day Motion (EDM) allowing MPs to draw attention to the issue; MPs register their support by signing individual motions
  • Ask a parliamentary question that the UK Government must respond to
  • Raise your issue verbally in a debate

Following up with your MP and feeding back

Follow up your meeting with an email or letter thanking them for their time and support. This will help keep them engaged in the future. Keep his office updated with information!