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How to engage with your new MP

City of Sanctuary local groups play a vital role in our communities. Not only do they provide support and services which are often a life-line for people seeking sanctuary – they also paint a picture of what an alternative system could look like, one where communities come together to welcome and support people as their neighbours and friends.

With a huge new cohort of MPs joining government, it’s important to make our important work known to them. Lots of new MPs will be trying to find out what their areas of focus will be, so these initial introductions are a good start in persuading them that refugee rights should be one of them.

This is all about meaningful relationship building, which takes time. So go slow and be strategic.

Here are some tips to think about before you reach out:

  • Find a constituency angle. MPs will always give their own constituents the most attention, and at least initially, new MPs will be focussed primarily on local issues. Highlight your connection to the area and how your work connects with and benefits the local community; if you have Sanctuary awarded institutions and organisations in your area, shout about this!
  • Make it personal. Research your new MP, how can you better connect with their interests and experiences? Are they a business owner, a parent, a football fan? Does your group provide CV support for people seeking sanctuary; children’s clothes distributions; refugee sports activities? Use these connections as hooks to grab their attention and talk about your own work.
  • Send invites. It’s much easier to connect face-to-face, so invite your new MP to an event or open day to showcase your work. They will also be keen to be seen out and about in the community, so an invite could be mutually beneficial.
  • What can you offer them? MPs can receive upwards of 500 emails per day, so think about how you can make yours stand out. This is a two way relationship, so think about what you can offer them. Connections with the wider community and Sanctuary awarded institutions and organisations; opportunities to be seen at events and meet constituents; opportunities to meet with people who have lived experience of the asylum system; data you have collected from services you run; briefings on specific issues; the chance to lead on local campaigns.
  • Be clear. All reach outs should have a clear and meaningful purpose. Ensure the action you want them to take is obvious.

Ready to reach out?

Authentic expression is always the most compelling, so see the below template letter as a springboard for your own reach outs. MPs take more notice of personal letters, so where possible pepper your reach outs with your own motivations, stories, and values.

For groups, we have included included the six steps for migrant justice, a useful and concise list drawn up by dozens of organisations to demand justice for people who move.

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. Click here for our ten tips to have courageous conversations.