Campaign with us
There are many different ways of campaigning, and each method can be beneficial in different ways.
Meeting your politicians
Stage 1: Arrange a meeting
Politicians hold regular surgeries to meet their constituents. To arrange a meeting, send an email or phone their office (contact details available on their website or on Parliament/Devolved Parliament websites).
Who are your local representatives? Clicking on the below will take you to a website so you can find out:
Member of Parliament (MP) - UK
Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) - Scotland
Assembly Member (AM) - Wales
Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) - Northern Ireland
In the email or on the phone, you must state your address, as politicians will not be able to deal with you unless you are their constituent. It will also be important to reiterate your desire for a face-to-face meeting. Some politicians operate meetings on a first-come-first-serve basis, whereas others have pre-arranged appointments.
In the email, letter or phone call, it will be important to provide a short background about why you want the meeting (e.g. you have RA, raise awareness, discuss particular issues about your rheumatology unit, discuss benefits etc.).
Stage 2: Research
When meeting with your local representative, it is important to be able to brief them as much as possible about rheumatoid arthritis/juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and the effects that the disease can have on some-one’s life.
You can email email@example.com and we can provide you with information about who your local politicians are, as well as further information on a particular issue that you may wish to campaign on. Our website is regularly updated with the latest campaigns and policy issues: www.nras.org.uk/campaign.
Stage 3: Preparation
Giving a personalised account of how RA or JIA affects your life and the lives of your family can have a powerful influence. Think about the issues that you would like to discuss personally:
- Your experience of claiming benefits
- Your rheumatology unit- how far you have to travel, access to a full multi-disciplinary team etc.
- Your experience of working with RA or JIA.
Remember to prepare copies of any materials that you want to leave with your politician, for example an NRAS booklet introducing RA to new patients or a ‘JIA in Schools’ booklet. NRAS can send you any relevant materials that you feel may be useful - you can see a list of these here.
Stage 4: At the meeting
Firstly, check how much time you have with them to ensure you are able to cover everything. Provide some general background about RA and information about NRAS and what the charity does, and most importantly, tell them your story.
Key things to ask for during your meeting:
- To write to NRAS to see how they can support the work of the charity or local Groups/Campaign teams
- To write to the Secretary of State or Cabinet Secretary to ask a specific question
- To pose a Parliamentary/Assembly question (written or orally)
- To contact the local rheumatology department to address particular issues
Ask them to keep in touch and update you on actions taken. Ask to take a picture that you can tweet, and that NRAS can share with a wider audience.
Stage 5: After the meeting
- Write them an email - thank them for their time and briefly summarise the key action points to take.
- Let us know how it went! This will enable us to focus our future campaigning efforts and we can share your story.
Using social media
The majority of MPs now use social media to express their views on local and national policies. Whilst they may not deal with casework over social media, tweeting them provides the opportunity to raise awareness of particular causes or campaigns. Tweets are restricted to 280 characters, so keep your message short and to the point! Check out the NRAS Twitter account here for anything you may wish to retweet.
Liaising with the media
Getting in touch with the local press is another great way of raising awareness. Whether you are holding a cake sale or have visited your MP, the local press love to publish good news stories and to help raise aware-ness of good causes.
Make sure you take some photos to include with your story. You can normally send a story via email to your local press. If you’d like to draft a more professional press release, get in touch with our Media Team and we can help out!
Always remember to tell your story. A powerful personal story always goes down well in the press.
Petitions can be a powerful way of showing the support and feeling for your campaign, and an ideal way to publicise it and drum up further support.
Online petitions are an easy way to collect signatures and just require you to set up a page. A major petition could be launched on the Parliament website. If you get enough signatures on there, the Government may respond or even debate the issue. Each different Parliament or Assembly has a different threshold and some issues may be debated or responded to on their individual merit.
More localised petitions may be more suited to www.change.org. You can keep track of the number of signatures and share this with local policy-makers, hospital management etc.
If you are thinking about starting a petition, get in contact with us to see if we already have a similar one running. It may be better to combine efforts rather than starting separate petitions on similar issues.
Contacting your local hospital
Liaising with the right people within your local hospital can help to solve particular issues, can raise awareness of the charity and can help more people to find the right support services. You may be able to raise a particular issue with senior management (e.g. to have more patient involvement), work with your rheumatology team (e.g. to help signpost patients to NRAS), or ensure that NRAS posters are displayed prominent-ly to enable other patients to receive our support services.
You may already be in the perfect position to contact your hospital directly through your relationships with your health professionals. If you aren’t sure who is best to contact at your local hospital, contact us and we can direct you to the right people.
Have your say on how healthcare in your area is delivered
There are organisations that can help to influence the delivery of healthcare in your area. This varies on where you live in the UK:
England: Healthwatch England aims to make sure that those running services, and the government, put people at the heart of care.
Wales: The Community Health Councils help to ensure that people’s views and needs influence the policies and plans put in place by health providers in Wales.
Scotland: The Scottish Health Council is responsible for ensuring that NHS Boards listen and take account of people’s views when they make decisions about health services in Scotland.
Northern Ireland: The Patient and Client Council helps to ensure that those who plan and manage health-care in Northern Ireland hear people’s views.
Keep in touch!
Remember, when you are campaigning, you are doing so as a person with rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or as someone who cares about these causes. If you would like to become an NRAS Ambassador or Campaigner, and campaign on behalf of NRAS, we can offer further support and advice within structured programmes. Just get in touch with the Policy and Public Affairs Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01628 823 524.