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What to do when a political canvasser knocks on your door…

Election campaigns are unique. They are the only time when MPs and political candidates come to your doorstep looking for your vote. So when a political canvasser comes a knocking, what should you do to get the most out of this opportunity?

First off, ensure that you’re prepared. Take a look at the leaflets which come through your door so you know a little bit about the candidates. You could even look at their social media feeds, or if they’re already an MP, look at their voting record. This will help you understand what they stand for and what messages or angles will resonate best with them.

Next, be clear on what you want them to do. We have prepared a useful door hanger setting out Asylum Matter‘s policy asks so you can ask candidates if they will commit to protect the right to seek asylum in the uk. This door hanger will help you state exactly what you’d like to see happen in order to create a fair, kind and workable asylum system. Simply download, print, cut it out and hang it on your door so you’re ready when canvassers come calling.

Talking about the asylum process can be tough. Entrenched political scapegoating and the divisive nature of culture wars means the truth is often twisted or lost entirely. To help you with these courageous conversations, we’ve set out solid responses to the most common questions and misinformed statements.

It might also be worth preparing a really simple elevator pitch. This should be just a few sentences setting out your major concerns of the day and what solution you see that addresses that concern.

For example: “I’m really concerned about politicians using inflammatory language that emboldens the far right and puts people seeking sanctuary at risk. Will you pledge to not use dehumanizing rhetoric and call it out when others do?”

This isn’t about out debating the other person, it’s about speaking from the heart to explain why this is an issue that means something to us.

For example, “When politicians use dehumanising language, my friends experience more hate. There is a direct correlation. I work with people seeking sanctuary and they report feeling far more scared and unsafe when politicians use this language. Everyone should feel safe in our communities.”

It isn’t always the candidates themselves that knock on doors, they often have teams of volunteers doing it. These volunteers will feed back people’s comments, so it is still worthwhile speaking from the heart. Don’t be afraid to speak to the candidate directly, you never know, they may just be at another house around the corner. Politely ask if you can speak with them, and share your points of view and experiences directly with them.

If you don’t have lived experience of seeking sanctuary yourself, wherever possible, bring in the experiences of people who do. MPs don’t often hear from people who have been through the asylum system, and sometimes hearing from people with this lived experience directly can have the most impact. In 2022, after meeting with a group of people with lived experience, MP Christian Wakeford apologised in the Commons for how he’d spoken about people seeking asylum, “I want to go on record and say what I said was wrong and I am sorry for saying it.”

Finally, the more we talk about these topics with our friends and family, the more easily these conversations with candidates and MPs will come. On the most part, we are not talking about refugee rights enough. Maybe we feel overwhelmed. Maybe we fear how people will respond. But if we’re to build a kinder and fairer world, then we need to get talking.

Start having courageous conversations about refugee rights…