4 ways you can influence policy and make a difference


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In the age of social media and 24/7 news channels, we’re constantly bombarded with information about everything that’s wrong with the world. Prices are increasing, millions of people are having to rely on food banks, and the rate of homelessness is on the rise. In the face of all of these messages, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to bury your head in the sand. You want to support the causes that matter to you, but you’re just one person. What impact can you really have?

We’re here to tell you that individuals can and do make a difference to policy every single day, and you could be one of them. There are plenty of things that you can do to influence local and national governments to make changes without even leaving the house. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make a difference.

1. Create and sign petitions 

A petition is a request, usually made to a government, which can be signed by other people to show support. If a petition gets 10,000 signatures, the government has to respond in some way. If it gets 100,000 signatures, it could be debated in parliament. 

It’s easy to start a petition on the UK Government & Parliament website, and you can share your petition on social media to raise awareness of your campaign and increase your chances of getting enough signatures. Read the government’s guide to starting a petition here. You can also browse open petitions to add your signature to causes you support.

2. Contact your MP

Your local MP represents everyone who lives in your local area (or ‘constituency’). You can send your MP an email or letter to ask them to support a campaign or cause you feel strongly about. If your MP agrees to help, they can raise the matter in the House of Commons. You can use the ‘Find MPs’ service to get the name and contact details of your MP, and read 5 top tips for writing to your MP published by Crisis to help you make your case.

Campaigners often ask as many people as possible to contact their MPs about their causes to increase the likelihood of getting support. Speaking of which, we’d strongly encourage you to write to your MP to ask them to stand against legislation that seeks to make homelessness a criminal offence, including the Criminal Justice Bill. Find out more about the campaign here.

3. Respond to public consultations

Public consultations are chances for you to give your views on a wide range of topics to help policy-makers understand public opinion. Government departments read responses to consultations before making decisions, so your voice could really make a difference.

There are over 250 open consultations available on the government website, and you can easily provide your views online. You can even search open consultations to find the issues that matter most to you.

4. Vote

One of the biggest ways you can influence policy is to vote in local and general elections. Every single vote counts, and using yours can make a huge difference to who represents the public in parliament. Research each candidate and party to understand their stance on topics that are important to you so that you’re as informed as possible before you cast your vote.

If you’re 18 or over, make sure you register to vote before the next general election to have your say. 

You can also help charities like Simon on the Streets to make a difference to communities by donating or fundraising. Your valuable support means that we can continue to offer practical and emotional support to people who need it most.

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