Bringing your charity’s supporters closer to parliament

emily-unell

Emily Unell is outreach and engagement projects manager for the House of Commons. Before this, she worked for the Open University, delivering a science outreach programme; and at the Science Museum.

 

Creating links between people and parliament, and involving them in the decisions that parliament makes, is increasingly important.

Similarly one of the most important roles played by charities is to provide a voice for their beneficiaries, often representing their concerns through engagement with parliament.

UK Parliament Week, which is an annual week-long programme dedicated to the UK parliament and democracy, is a great opportunity for your charity to help your communities get involved and make their voices heard.

The relationship between charities and parliament

Charities are a vital part of our democracy that help to give a different perspective to the laws that parliament makes and the issues it debates. They also help people from across the UK take an active role in their democracy by making their voices heard about issues that matter to them.

We see charities regularly mentioned by MPs and members of the House of Lords during debates, whether to highlight the impact they make in communities or through scrutinising government policy in a wide range of areas, providing unique insight often gathered directly from those affected on the ground.

Charities often provide that direct link to the public, and particularly those who are most vulnerable, and as parliament seeks to increase public engagement in the workings of Westminster further, the voluntary sector has the scope to play a key role.

UK Parliament Week

That’s why we want charities to get involved in UK Parliament Week this November (14-20 November). Of course charities can help their audiences understand and get involved with parliament all year round but this week is a real opportunity to get your organisation and your audiences to think about and get involved with parliament, its work and members.

How you can take part

Your contribution to UK Parliament Week can be as big or as small as you want – whatever suits your organisation and audiences. You could, for example:

  • let your audiences know about how they can get involved with parliament with posters, leaflets and information provided by us
  • invite your local MP, a member of the House of Lords or local politicians to an event
  • ask a member of parliament’s community outreach team to deliver a free workshop about how to make your voices heard in parliament
  • invite a person or group who’ve engaged with parliament to give a talk – and ask them to share their experience (for example someone who’s given evidence to a committee: why it was important and how they found the experience).

What parliament can offer you

Taking part in UK Parliament Week means that you’re part of a UK-wide network of organisations. The UK Parliament Week team are here to answer any questions you may have, or suggest ideas about how you could take part. We will also:

  • have toolkits available that you can use to help plan your event or activity.
  • send you a pack of free giveaways and leaflets to give to your audience at your event
  • publish your event or activity online and in our programme (if it’s open to the public), we’ll include you in our press work and give you a template press release and media tips.

Four easy steps

  1. Use the online UK Parliament Week toolkits to help plan your event or activity
  2. Register your event or activity on our website by 30 September to make sure that you get included in our publicity
  3. Receive a pack of free giveaways and leaflets on how to get involved to give to your audiences
  4. Run your event or activity

The relationship between parliament and charities is hugely mutually beneficial. In parliament, scrutiny of policy through debates, legislation and committees is undoubtedly improved by the input of charities. And for charities, parliament is one of the main forums through which they can shape the policy agenda, and ultimately improve the lives of their beneficiaries.

By working together during UK Parliament Week, we can strengthen this relationship further, and crucially ensure that charities can provide an even more direct route for the public to engage with parliament.

 

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