Molly Kearney, Parliamentary Manager
On Tuesday afternoon I was in the Stranger’s Dining Room in the House of Commons for the launch of an Every Disabled Child Matters report (we contributed to the writing of the report, which you can read on the EDCM website) .
I was with Lesley, mum to 7 year old Ruby who has CHARGE, and we had the chance to talk to several MPs about Lesley and Ruby’s lives. It was a brilliant opportunity and Lesley was an incredible champion for Ruby, Sense and other families with disabled children
Midway through the event, the MP Alison McGovern, who is a shadow minister for children and families, got up to say a few words. She reflected on how rare it is for MPs to hear the voices of disabled people, their families and the people who care for and support them. She understood that it can sometimes be because people have too many other things going on, or that they find communication challenging. But, she said, democracy only works when everyone can be involved and MPs need to hear from their disabled constituents, their families and carers.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for the past six months as the general election approaches – how can Sense support you – no matter who you are – to be heard by your elected representative in Parliament?
It’s a difficult question. I know from some of you that you’ve tried, but your MP just isn’t interested. And other people say that they’d like to try, but they aren’t sure where to start.
I thought we could try a new approach. Which is why I – along with some of my fellow team members – designed the ‘What I want from my MP’ e-action.
There are three reasons I want you to think about taking part if you haven’t already:
- With this e-action you can say as much or as little as you want. We’ve got different surveys for different types of people that Sense is in touch with – deafblind/sensory impaired people, parents and carers, professionals and supporters. We’ve given deafblind/sensory impaired people a lot of space to write about their experiences, but if you feel nervous about facing a blank box, you can fill out the supporter survey. The supporter survey is multiple choice, so all you need to do is agree with at least one option per question (hopefully that will be easy).
- If your MP hasn’t shown interest in the past, now is the time to try again. Not even the experts know who will win the general election, so MPs and candidates should be thinking of you as a valuable voter and someone they should listen to. Of course, I can’t guarantee anything, but it’s worth a shot!
- If you complete this action, you’re on your way to being eligible for our grand campaign challenge prize: a day of dedicated campaigning training and support, tailored to you. If you’re the winner of the campaign challenge (chosen at random from people who have completed all three of our election actions), Sense’s public policy team will help you to design a campaigning day all about what you want to achieve. You might want to meet your MP, or shadow them. Or you could want help writing a campaign plan for an issue that’s important to you. There are a lot of possibilities and our team will be up for exploring them with whoever wins.
Will you tell us what you want from your MP?
We’ve had some great responses already, so if you need any inspiration visit our website, where we’ve published a selection.
Molly Kearney is Sense’s Parliamentary Manager