Guide to meeting with your MP

Wondering how to secure a meeting with your MP? We've got a plan.

10 Jul 2024

Now that the general election is over and MPs are taking office, it’s the best time to secure meetings with them. It’s important that your MP sees your local action group and your local partners as key stakeholders in your community. By securing a meeting with them early you’ll be able to build a strong relationship with them and ensure they prioritise action to tackle the climate, nature and cost of living crises. If you spoke to them before the election, either at a meeting, a hustings or over email, you’ll also be able to follow up on any commitments they made.  

To support your campaigning, Friends of the Earth will also be sending all MPs a welcome letter which sets out our campaign demands and a gift of a Friends of the Earth calendar to welcome them in to office.

You may also want to consider reaching out to unsuccessful election candidates, particularly if they're influential in your local community. All of the advice in this guide can be used for meetings with unsuccessful candidates too.

Work alongside others

As politicians and others seek to divide us by spreading myths about climate action, it’s important that we work together within our communities to be united in our demand for climate justice. We recommend you work with others to secure a meeting with your ew or returning MP. At a local level, this could include other community groups, organisations and businesses.

The more diverse and representative the people and groups you collaborate with are, the more likely your MP will listen, and the more successful you’ll be.

Before organising a meeting with your MP, you could start by reaching out to other groups, so you can jointly approach them. If you’ve already planned the meeting, there’s still time to let others know about it and invite them to join. Find out more about working with local allies.

Invite your candidates to meet

We've drafted a template email you can use to ask your MP to meet. We’ve left space for you to tailor the email so you can focus on the environmental concerns most important to your group and local partners. As you’d expect, MPs are very busy, so try to remain flexible on dates.

We’ve also put together a template social media post which you can use to welcome your MP to office. This will help put your group on their radar ahead of your meeting.

Let us know when you have a meeting secured and we can give you advice on how best to tailor your arguments for the specific MP or political party you’re meeting with.

Venues

MPs will have an office which will act as a natural venue for your meeting. However you might want to suggest inviting to them to a space in your local community such as a local cafe (if it’s not too busy) or even your local library. If there’s a particular location that’s relevant to your campaign demands, such as a river in need of cleaning up or a community energy project, you might want to invite your MP there. You could also consider holding your meting online. This may mean more people can attend and your MP will be able to hear from a diverse range of voices. Take a look at our guide to using Zoom to help you prepare.

Preparing a welcome gift

To make sure your group and partners are memorable to your MP, we recommend you bring them a welcome gift of a houseplant in a pot decorated by your group. 

Order our Friends of the Earth stencils to help decorate your pot and get creative with images that help represent your group and your local community. That way your MP will have something in their office that serves as a reminder of the importance of working with local groups like yours.

A beautiful green plant perched on a desk in a pot which reads "Be a Friend of the Earth"
Plant pot decorated using our Friends of the Earth stencils

Ahead of your MP meeting, why not organise a craftivism event to decorate your pot. At the event you could also encourage people to write postcards to your MP which you could take along to the meeting. We have postcards for the United for Warm Homes campaign and the Planet over Profit campaign which you can order and downloadable postcards for our Environmental Rights Campaign.

Don’t forget you can apply to the local action group fund to cover the cost of the plant, plant pot and any other materials you may need.

Before your meeting

Decide who's going. A minimum of 2 people from the group should attend to ensure that one person can take notes while the other speaks. Ask representatives from other local groups you’ve worked with before to join the meeting. This is helpful for demonstrating the breadth of support for the issues in your community. It’s a good idea to agree roles in advance. Decide who’ll speak to which agenda point and who’ll be responsible for timekeeping.

Research the MP beforehand to check if they have made any previous statements on climate breakdown or have themes they’re particularly interested in that you could use to get their attention. You can use websites like They Work For You to help. For example, if they seem particularly concerned about the economy, you could focus on employment and the benefits that green jobs will have. Or if they have spoken out about health, you could highlight the health benefits of taking action on air pollution and home insulation.

If you need help with gathering local data about your area, check out our State of the Environment tool which shows you data on how your local area is performing on various climate issues. 

Agenda for the meeting

During the meeting you can use our main campaign demands to structure the discussion. These demands set out the urgent actions needed to be taken on  climate and nature by all political parties.

You may want to run through the list systematically in your meeting, or if you’re worried about running out of time, why not prioritise the checklist and choose the environmental issues that most align with the concerns you have for your area?   

Friends of the Earth is campaigning for the next government to write a new climate plan that meets the UK government’s pledge to reduce emissions by over two thirds by 2030.

The UK’s new climate action plan must be credible, ambitious and urgent enough to ensure the UK meets and exceeds its crucial 2030 global climate goal and legally binding national targets with deep cuts to harmful carbon emissions.

A new climate action plan must deliver long-term green jobs, secure Britain’s industries, and protect and support workers. In the meeting, you can ask your MP to help ensure the next government delivers on this.  

Below are examples of questions you could ask:

  • The UK is offtrack to meet its 2030 pledge and carbon budgets. Will you support our campaign for a new climate plan that meets our climate targets while sharing the costs and benefits fairly?
  • The public wants to tackle the climate crisis, but many are struggling with the cost of living. How will you encourage the government to make low-carbon options affordable and accessible to all?

If your MP made commitments on this before the election, you can ask them what plans they have now to follow through on them.
 

More than 2 years on from the start of the energy crisis, millions of people are still struggling to afford to heat their homes and the health impacts of cold, damp homes are costing the NHS tens of billions of pounds. Investing in insulation and energy efficiency would create green jobs, bring down our energy bills and cut emissions.

We therefore believe the next government needs to commit to investing at least £6 billion a year on average in an emergency programme to insulate our heat-leaking homes. We’re calling on the government to roll out a rapid, street-by-street insulation programme, co-ordinated by councils.

This should start with the neighbourhoods hardest hit by the crisis and be provided free of charge in areas where people are living on low incomes.

During the meeting it’s important to share why your community cares about this issue and bring in the perspective of other community groups if you can.

Here's how your MP can show support for Warm Homes for all:

  • Share support for the campaign on social media. For example, you could take a photo of them and your group holding United for Warm Homes placards to share on their social media channels. Or share this image with a message of support for urgent action on insulation.
  • Raise the issue within parliament by submitting written or oral questions about the need for insulation.
  • Write to their party leader using this template letter.

Friends of the Earth is campaigning for the UK government to pass an Environmental Rights Act. This is a law that recognises the right to a healthy environment as a human right. Enshrining the right to a healthy environment in UK law would give communities the power to hold companies and government legally accountable for polluting activities locally and for improving access to the health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces and trees.

Below are a couple of questions you could ask in the meeting to find out what action your MP will commit to ensure a healthy environment:

  • What will you do to ensure that the next government lives up to the UK’s international commitments and make a healthy environment a legal right?
  • It’s awful that the sewage pollution in our rivers took so long to come to light. I’m worried other big industries are taking a toll on nature too. What will your party do to ensure that businesses report their impacts on nature, and that the big polluters pay?
  • What will your party do to stop any more children being harmed, or even dying, because of how toxic their local environment is?

Following the election, we’ll be setting up a way for supporters to send physical postcards to their new or returning MP. You can spread the word or send one too. You'll be able to choose from a range of postcard designs to raise your key concerns about issues like polluted waterways which are impacting the health of where you live. You can then take these along to your meeting with your MP and ask them what they’ll be doing to raise the issue of a legal right to a healthy environment in parliament. You’ll find the link to the action and printable versions of the postcards here, when they become available.

As part of our Planet over Profit campaign we’re demanding a new UK law that’ll hold companies, banks and public bodies to account for any socially and environmentally damaging impacts caused by their activities, and ensure they are held liable when harm occurs.

This should include a new law to prevent corporations committing environmental and human rights abuses in their supply chains. We must stop deforestation globally, especially in biodiverse, carbon sinks like the Amazon and the Cerrado to protect nature and frontline communities.

During the meeting, you can also ask your MP to:

Find out more about our campaign to ensure the UK plays its part in global efforts to tackle the climate and nature crises.

In solidarity with our sister organisation Palestine Friends of the Earth who have suffered horrendously in the war in Gaza, with at least 5 members killed by Israeli airstrikes, we’re demanding:

  • The government immediately end the provision of arms to Israel.
  • The immediate reinstatement of the UN Relief and Works Agency funding as a matter of strict urgency.
  • The government must employ all of the UK’s diplomatic influence to achieve a full, permanent and immediate ceasefire.  

Here's why we're taking action on Palestine.

Here's a couple of example questions you can ask your MP to find out what they’ll do:

  • Will you state your support for, and pledge to do everything you can to achieve, an immediate, full and permanent ceasefire in Gaza?
  • An independent UN report conducted in April stated that Israel has yet to provide any evidence for its claims that staff with the UN Relief and Works Agency were involved in the October 7 attacks. Will you commit to doing everything you can to achieve the reinstatement of UK funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as a matter of urgency?
  • At least five members of our sister organisation Palestine Friends of the Earth have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. In February a host of UN experts warned that arms transferred to Israel are likely to be used to violate international humanitarian law and these transfers must be ceased immediately. Will you commit to calling for a UK arms embargo on Israel and what will you do to achieve this? 
  • If the arms industry is a job provider in your area you can also ask: what will you do to support local workers to transition to environmentally and socially just work?

For more detailed information and arguments you can make to your MP, take a look at our letter to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

As well as amplifying these demands locally we know you may also have other local, national or international issues that you want to focus on. Whether that’s opposing a fossil fuel extraction site or, stopping airport expansion where you live. No matter what your focus you can use this opportunity to fight for a more just and fairer world.

Securing commitments

During the meeting it’s key to get commitments from your MP. Depending on the topics you focused on and the questions you asked before the election you may already have commitments to hold your MP to account over.

Making sure you’ve got a good record of what they’ve said about each campaign demand is important. You can also ask them to agree to another meeting in 3 months time to ensure you can follow up.

Other ways you can ask your MP to show support for the topics you’ve discussed: 

  • Take a photo with the group holding a placard.
  • Share support on social media.  
  • Record a short video of your MP sharing their support or ask for a quote you can use in the media and social media.

Structure of the meeting

  • Introduce yourself and the group to the MP if you haven’t met before. Don’t expect them to remember who you are and why you’re meeting them.
  • If appropriate, establish as early as you can how much time you have.
  • Go through your campaign demands and ask them what they will do now they're elected. Aim to have different people, including local partners, speak to each of the campaign demands. This’ll help the MP hear a range of voices and understand that the issues you’re campaigning on are felt by a broad range of people across the community. It’s useful to take note of what they share, so you can follow up with them and hold them to account on the issues.
  • Try to get to commitments and next steps. Try and secure another meeting with them in 3 months time to follow up on any discussions you’ve had.
  • Take a photo together and agree to be in touch.
  • Close the meeting with thanks and a run-through of any action points agreed.

After your meeting

Let us know what your MP said during the meeting and if they made any specific commitments. This way, we’ll be able to build a national picture of what politicians are saying, and help you hold them to account for any pledges they made to you.

Send them an email to follow up on your agreed next steps.

Post your photos on social media and tag @friends_earth

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