03 March 2015
5 ways to get more involved in politics
START A PETITION
Online petitions are growing in popularity, and arguably in influence. Organisations such as Change.org provide a quick and easy platform for anyone to start a petition. And they really do work. In 2012 Lucy Holmes started the No More Page 3 petition asking The Sun newspaper to drop page three. Her petition quickly gained thousands of supporters including the Alliance. It's become the gateway issue for women to stand up on issues they care about and inspired Caroline Criado-Prerez to start a petition to get women on British banknotes. This is just one of many successful petitions. It's not so much about the volume of signatories, but about how petitions can be used as an effective communication tool along with traditional mediums such as contacting your local MP.
SUBMIT TO A SELECT COMMITTEE IN WRITING OR IN PERSON
Many people are put off by this because they think it's a long and complicated process and requires them to be an expert on the issue they care about. This is not the case. Anyone can make a submission to a select committee and MPs welcome the public's input. You can send your submission online, in the post or even give your submission in person. All the information about how to make a submission, along with other ways you can have your say in parliament, can be found at parliament.uk/getinvolved
JOIN A POLITICAL PARTY
Whether we like it or not, our political system is structured around political parties. The good news is most political parties allow for a lot of engagement, providing a great way to contribute positively to politics. By becoming a member of a political party you can vote to select candidates, attend party conferences and stand as a candidate. Some parties also allow members to play a more direct role in deciding party policy. Members of the Liberal Democrats, Greens and SNP can vote on motions at the annual conference that decide the party's position on various issues. Or you may like to join the Christian branch of a political party. Conservative Christian Fellowship, Christians on the Left and the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum are well established, effective and influential branches of their respective parties. Each party website has details on how to join. Our election website has direct links to many of these parties – election2015.eauk.org/parties
JOIN A CAMPAIGN
Supporting a campaign is a way you can help bring practical, positive change and raise awareness to MPs. There's lots of worthy campaigns to get involved with, and it's up to you how much time and resources you give them –from donating a small monthly sum to volunteering your time. A few campaigns we love at the Alliance are Open Doors, which provides support and resources to persecuted churches in countries such as North Korea, the A21 Campaign, committed to ending slavery, A World at School, which is working to ensure every child receives their right to a basic education and Micah Challenge, working to reduce poverty.
RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT IMPORTANT POLITICAL ISSUES AT YOUR CHURCH
The Church has enormous capacity to effect positive change and influence our political leaders. It's encouraging to see many churches stepping up to meet the needs of our community through initiatives such as foodbanks. If your church isn't already doing so, you may wish to start a foodbank or encourage families to consider fostering or adopting by setting up a support group. You could raise topical issues for prayer or ask members of your church to contact their MP about an important issue, sign a petition or join you in volunteering for a campaign.