Ryan McCullough, Parliamentary and Policy Officer at the Sport and Recreation Alliance explains how small actions can provide the building blocks for large results when it comes to influencing policy on a national level.
The Importance of Local Action.
By Ryan McCullough
When looking at a big policy change it can often be difficult to know where to start. There is something that you feel needs to be done but it seems like a mammoth task thinking ‘how do I get such an important change.’ Well in many cases you can do more than you think and this is where local action and lobbying can be key. I think many people think that in order to change big policies you need big actions, and while ultimately the change must be made at a senior level, local action often provides the building blocks to get that result.
Local lobbying can consist of writing to, meeting or petitioning your local representatives/councillors, but can also involve engaging with your MP. Initially, lobbying your local councillors is helpful as they are accessible and have the power to make changes at a local authority level fairly quickly.
But if it’s national change you seek then MP’s are where you should start. In the case of MPs, local lobbying is vital to highlight how national issues can affect you as a local resident. In many cases, the first an MP hears about an important issue is from their local constituents telling them about it.
It’s crucial to highlight the issues that affect you because it can build up a national picture. It may seem like a small thing, but if a number of people in different areas are expressing their concerns about how a particular issue is affecting them, it starts to build up a bigger picture of the scale of change that is needed.
Highlighting the issue is not the only reason that local lobbying is important though. When it comes to actually changing a policy, Parliamentarians, government and the Civil Service will often want to hear the experiences of people like you – the people the change will affect. This is particularly useful for MP’s in their parliamentary work.
Ultimately, as the old adage goes ‘think globally, act locally’ and acting locally is the key to getting the change you want.
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We achieve much more when we work together, with those individuals and organisations who want to play their part in building an even brighter future for the sport in England and the UK. When the paddling community gets behind national campaigns, we make an incredibly positive impact. Getting involved in things like river cleans and ‘check, clean, dry’ are fantastic - shouting about them is just as important!