A couple of months ago I accompanied a few people from my church on a prayer walk around my new-build community.

The church is on the other side of town and most of those on the walk knew very little about my area. What I considered to be common knowledge about the community’s demographics, crime rates and social issues were completely unknown to them. Their fresh perspectives caused me to consider in a new way the things I took for granted.

I know what’s happening in my community because I am there, experiencing it, every day. We all have unique knowledge about what’s happening in our place right now because of the spheres and communities we inhabit – particularly if we are in a position of leadership or are an expert’. This knowledge may seem obvious to us, as it’s part of our daily lives. But these perspectives are also extremely valuable to those outside of that area who are trying to understand what different parties and candidates are saying during this election cycle.

I think about my friend who works for a project supporting homeless people. She has eye-opening insights into the social and political causes of homelessness in our community and by sharing them she helps me to understand what’s going on. Speaking with her has encouraged me to pay more attention to what candidates say (or don’t say) about how they will address issues around homelessness, housing and poverty should they be voted into office.

You will also have insights and experiences from your workplace, volunteering roles and local community that could be valuable to others.

Whether you’re in a battleground constituency or facing an inevitable outcome, voting tactically, on a single issue, or for a particular party, your political engagement doesn’t need to be limited to voting.

Next time you’re at dinner with friends, talk about the implications of particular policies or election statements on your sector. If you feel passionately about a particular issue, use your social media accounts to encourage others to look at what candidates say about the issue. Don’t assume that people know what’s happening in your area of influence; share your own experiences and draw their attention to news articles and candidates’ statements. You could even make use of local radio, papers, residents’ meetings, parish newsletters, Facebook groups, and blog sites to alert others in the community to what’s happening and get them thinking about it too.

It’s not just your friends and relatives who may benefit. I have a number of friends and family members in healthcare and education. Their experiences could help candidates to understand the real lives that are affected by headline-grabbing election topics. Elections are a great opportunity to inform your local candidates about an issue they might not know much about, or to find out their views on something. Don’t wait until your MP is elected to find out what they think, start a dialogue with candidates now.

This is a time when politicians are courting your vote, so take advantage of this – write to them about the issues you care about. You could even consider compiling their responses and posting them on social media or a local news site so that others can see how they respond. If you attend a hustings event, explain to the candidates why you are invested in an issue before you ask a question about it. Not only will it force the candidates to think about their stance, but it will aid all those in attendance as they consider the responses.

You might have strong views about which party or candidate is best or worst for your sector, community or area of interest, but remember that those you speak with might come to different conclusions. Think about how the call to model yourself upon Christ affects your behaviour and attitudes, but remember that Jesus is above party politics. Additionally, remember that when you speak in public, you are also a model to those around you. Speak graciously to all candidates, even those you vehemently disagree with, not in your own interest but in service and with love for those around you: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” – Philippians 2:3 – 5.

Would you like to hold a hustings event? Take a look at our guide. We also offer guidance on writing to your MP once they are elected. If you need advice on media engagement, contact Danny Webster, our advocacy and media manager, by emailing d.​webster@​eauk.​org