Your Member of Parliament is your connection to the powers that be Wellington, so get them working on the issues you care about.
Your local MP relies on your support, and the support of others within your electorate, to keep their job. This means your views and your vote count. You don’t have to be an expert to have a say. The simple fact that you care about an issue is a good enough reason to contact a politician.
MPs know that for every person who takes the time to raise an issue with them, there are many more people who feel the same way. So every time you contact your MP about something important to you, you play a part in shaping the way they think.
It’s a simple action, but one which could change your world.
Write to your MP
MPs need to hear from their constituents. They depend on you to tell them what issues are most important to the people they represent.
Writing a letter only takes a few minutes, but it’s highly likely you will receive a response. The majority of MPs will almost always reply to letters from constituents and will forward your request on to the relevant Minister (even if they disagree with you). In turn, the Minister will be obliged by Parliamentary convention to respond to letters from an MP.
This is a great opportunity to educate your MP. Even if they are not the direct target of the action, your letter provides them with an opportunity to learn about an issue and do something about it themselves.
Writing your letter
Here are some general rules for writing your letter:
- Be succinct – aim for your letter to be no longer than one and a half sides of A4
- Keep to the point – focus on one issue and don’t cover too many things in the letter
- Include your address so your MP knows where to send the response
- Check your MP’s correct title. Do you address them as Ms, Mr, Mrs, Dr, Rt. Hon? You can check by looking them up on the official Parliament website.
Structuring your letter
If this is your first letter to your MP, you could start by introducing yourself and sharing why it is that you care about the issue that you are raising. If you have a personal connection to the topic of your letter, this is a great way of engaging your MP and conveying your passion and
commitment. Remember to acknowledge your MP for any supportive actions that they have already taken – MPs rarely hear the words “thank you” from their constituents.
After your introduction, use the EPIC structure for the main part of your letter:
- E = Engage. Get your MP’s attention with a dramatic fact or short statement.
- P = Problem. State the problem and present the causes. How widespread or serious is it?
- I = Inform. Tell your MP about a solution to the problem. Give examples of how and where it has worked. Ideally, show how it has benefited poor and vulnerable people. You could cite a recent study or tell a first-person account of how the solution has helped people you know.
- C = Call to action. Now that you’ve engaged your MP, presented the problem and informed them of a solution, you need to let them know what you want them to do about it. Ensure that your ask is very clear – this is the most important part of the letter. If it is complex or you want a number of things, you could use bullet points.
And finally, finish the letter by asking for a response.
What to do afterwards
Pressing “send” on an email or putting your letter in the post is not the end of your action.
- Congratulate yourself. You have taken an important action to help generate the political will to end the injustice of poverty.
- Follow up with your MP. If you haven’t had an acknowledgement after a couple of weeks, you could give your MPs office a ring to check they have received your letter.
- Share your reply. When you get a response from your MP, share a copy with the Oxfam so we can collate the responses. You can also upload the letter, or write a summary, and share it with other supporters via social media so that they can comment and compare with their own MPs responses.
- Be encouraged! Even if it seems the response you received individually wasn’t great, the combined strength of Oxfam supporters really does drive change. By writing your letter, you made an important contribution to the collective effort.