Charities and the general election: the great campaigns that are happening

Despite the limited time to prepare, and the amount of confusion about the Lobbying Act, charities have been pulling out all the stops to get their messages heard and on the agenda in the run-up to the election. Whether encouraging people to vote, organising hustings events or supporting people to campaign locally, charities have been bold, creative and putting beneficiaries’ voices at the front and centre of their work.

With polling day less than a week away, we take a look at ten pre-election campaigns that demonstrate how important it is for charities to engage in the debate, and the many ways in which they can do this.

1. Nuffield Trust

Nuffield Trust is using the general election as an opportunity to bring facts, evidence and knowledge to the election debate. It has partnered with Full Fact to examine some of the major claims about the NHS in the run-up to the election as well as offering views on election pledges and possible scenarios of future NHS spending. Check the general election spotlight page and social media for their latest briefings and news.

2. Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid has been calling for prospective parliamentary candidates to back its campaign and pledge to ‘hear, see and support’ survivors of domestic violence. The campaign centres around three main asks (pdf, 172KB) and it is supporting campaign champions to spread its message locally with a useful bank of resources. As well as encouraging people to vote, it is supporting survivors of domestic violence to vote anonymously. Women’s Aid is part of the End Violence Against Women Coalition which has published a review of the party manifestos and noted success in its campaigns with cross-party pledges to end abuse.

3. Team Future

Team Future is an exciting new youth-led movement that wants the voices of young, working-class people to be heard by politicians. Supported by Reclaim, it is recruiting and canvassing young people across Manchester to get involved in its campaign. It has presented its manifesto asking politicians to change the way in which they do politics, so more people of different ages and backgrounds can be included.

4. Refugee Action

Refugee Action has partnered with Refugee Council and Scottish Refugee Council to develop the Refugees Welcome Pledge. Refugee Action has published an in-depth campaigning guide (3.3MB) for supporters to get its message out locally as well as an email template to contact candidates.

5. Homeless Link

Ahead of the election, Homeless Link, in partnership with Centrepoint, Crisis, Shelter and St Mungo’s, is calling for all political parties to commit to a new national initiative to end rough sleeping (pdf, 323KB). It is asking members to join the campaign by meeting with or writing to party leaders and prospective parliamentary candidates to make the same ask. It also launched the Your Vote Matters campaign and is calling on homeless services to increase democratic engagement among service users.

6. Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness is calling for all candidates to #speakupformentalillness and support its manifesto. It has issued guidance on how to engage with local candidates and organise hustings as well as an email template for supporters. Rethink Mental Illness is part of the Mental Health Policy Group which has developed a joint manifesto (pdf, 718KB). Other members are carrying out powerful campaigns in the run-up to the election, including the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Centre for Mental Health, NHS Confederation and RC Psych.

7. The Richmond Group of Charities

The Richmond Group of Charities is a collaboration of 14 leading health and social care organisations in the voluntary sector, including Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Macmillan and British Red Cross. It has published a joint manifesto (pdf, 479KB) which sets out five priorities for the next government.

8. National Trust

National Trust, along with RSPB, Devon Wildlife Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust, is asking candidates to put the natural world at the forefront of their campaign with an open letter (pdf, 532KB). National Trust also provided useful analysis of the party manifestos and what they could mean for the natural world. It has been working with other organisations as part of the GreenerUK group which published a manifesto and held a hustings event.

9. Gingerbread

Gingerbread is putting beneficiaries at the heart of its campaign and has set out three policy asks based on the experiences of single parents. It is helping single parents to engage with the election as well as providing tips on how to campaign with confidence.

10. Children England

Children England has been supporting its members to campaign on its democratically created manifesto with a bank of #childrenatheart resources, including graphics and questions for candidates. It has been raising awareness (pdf, 381KB) and building support for post-election lobbying about the formula grant withdrawal, as well as working with the 4in10 network to get child poverty on the campaign agenda. The campaign has recently featured on the front page of the Evening Standard.

What about you?

These are just a few of the campaigns that show how much charities can do: whether it’s producing their own manifesto, outlining the relevant policies in the parties’ manifestos, encouraging their beneficiaries to engage with their candidates, asking candidates to pledge their support for a particular policy, charities can – and should – speak up on the issues they care about and represent.

We are here to support you and answer any questions you have about the rules. And we would love to hear about the campaigning you are doing so please do leave us a comment here below.

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Avatar photo Mary Strickson is trainee policy and public services officer at NCVO. She previously worked as an advisor at Providence Row, a homeless charity in Tower Hamlets. Prior to this, Mary worked and volunteered at multiple charities aimed at supporting vulnerable people and promoting social cohesion.

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