Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mass Lobby of Parliament: Tuesday 13th October

Mass Lobby of Parliament 2.30pm Tuesday 13 October 2009

Forwarded from the organiser:

I am expecting 274 people at the mass lobby - 144 adults and 130 children - from 128 families. A further 38 adults have expressed an interest in coming with 15 children.

If you emailed me at masslobby@live.co.uk to say you MIGHT come, please let me know whether or not you are. (You don't need to email me if you have already confirmed that you are coming.)

There is still plenty of time to sign up if you do want to come. The more people who can make it, the more impact it will have.

In addition, I am looking for eight stewards who can help out on the day. It will involve arriving at 1.45pm for a meeting with the police at 2pm. Once the mass lobby starts, you will be moving among the crowd giving advice and directing people.

In the next couple of days I will be sending out an email with attachments giving the final details in preparation for the big day.

Please cross-post this everywhere."


Further info:

Home Education Mass Lobby of Parliament
2.30pm Tuesday 13 October 2009

What to do before the mass lobby

1. Arrange to meet your MP on the day

You can turn up at Westminster any time that the House of Commons is sitting and request a meeting with your MP. However, you should do everything you can in advance to arrange a meeting with your MP. This will also involve less queuing for you.

The best way to contact your MP is to write to him or her at the House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. Most MPs also use email, and should treat emails in the same manner as a letter. You can find out your MP's email address at the following website: http://www.parliament.uk/directories/hciolists/alms.cfm. Remember to give your home address even in an email, as MPs have a strict rule about dealing only with their own constituents.

2. Try to get your local radio/TV/newspapers interested in the mass lobby. Also attached to the email is a model press release you can use. If you are going to use it, send it as soon as possible – that way they might cover the story before and after the event.

3. Try to get the national media interested in the mass lobby. If you have any contacts with national radio/TV/newspapers please pass the information on to them. I will be sending out a national press release but there is no substitute for the personal touch.

What to do on the day of the mass lobby

1. Take with you any correspondence from your MP confirming you have a meeting. This will shorten the amount of time you have to queue.

2. Be prepared if you are taking children. At the time of writing , I am expecting 143 adults and 130 children to attend the mass lobby. Given that we will undoubtedly have to queue, there is the potential for 130 bored children to make their own entertainment! There may be journalists present and although some are pro-home education, others will be looking for an opportunity to criticise us. Please consider taking something constructive for your children to do while they are waiting. If you or they have a particular talent that would entertain other children – juggling, face-painting, etc, please consider bringing the necessary equipment along.

3. Arrive at 2.30pm
Even if you have a meeting arranged with your MP later in the afternoon, please arrive at 2.30pm so that we can take publicity photographs.

4. Enter through the St Stephen’s entrance (it is possible that this is now called the Cromwell Green entrance I am still waiting to check). Go in through St Stephen's entrance and proceed until you reach Central Lobby - the central point in the Palace between the House of Lords and House of Commons.

5a. What to do if you have a meeting arranged. There is a limit of 100 lobbyists at any one time in the Central Lobby. Before you queue for the security check, inform a police officer or steward that you have a meeting arranged with your MP and show them any correspondence your MP has sent to you. This should allow you to go straight into the security checking area without queuing with the general public for tours of Parliament. Your MP or their staff will usually come to meet you in Central Lobby. You need to go to the desk in Central Lobby and ask the attendants to telephone your MP's office.

5b. What to do if you do not have a meeting arranged. If your MP has agreed to meet you, but not given you any details of where and when, or if you have not already arranged a meeting with your MP, you will need to queue outside St Stephen's entrance.

The police will only allow 100 people, including lobbyists and other visitors, into Central Lobby at any one time. Pass through the security check and proceed to Central Lobby. Once there, go to the desk and ask for "a green card". This is a request for your MP to come and meet you and should be filled in and returned as directed. It is important that you make clear statement your reason for visiting on the card.

This is very important because, if you do not manage to meet with your MP, the card will then be sent on to him or her. Your MP should then respond directly to you and the more he or she knows about why you were at Westminster, the better.

The desk staff will take the card and officials will be asked to look for your MP and let him or her know that you are asking to meet with them. You should wait around for a while, but don't forget that lobbyists with firm appointments to meet their MP will also be waiting, so you should be prepared to give up waiting after 20 minutes or so.

6. Tight Security.
You will have to go through 'airport type' security to gain access to Parliament - on a busy day this can take at least 15 minutes - and you may need to queue until there is space. (I don’t think this includes identity documents but I am waiting to check.)

7. Disabled Access.
If you are disabled, please telephone the Serjeant -at-Arms' office at the House of Commons, who will advise you of procedures for entering the building. (Phone 0207 219 3000 and ask the switchboard to put you through to the Serjeant's office). The Serjeant's office do allow some parking where it is required by disabled people, but individuals will need to verify this with the office. It is usual for one of your MPs' staff to accompany you once you enter the building. You will need to arrange this with your MP in advance. Please let me know if you have any special ambulatory needs or require any assistance.

8. Meeting your MP
Use a meeting with your MP to try to:
• Give them the information they need about the Badman Review and the Government’s proposed legislation
• Influence their views
• Persuade them that many other constituents share your concerns
• Ask them to raise your concerns with any relevant Ministers by meeting them and by writing to them, and
• Ask them to take appropriate action to show that they support you.

It is best to be as brief, clear and courteous as possible. If they send their researcher instead, treat them in the same way.

You should thank him or her for taking the time to see you, establish how much time they have, make two or three key points and - most importantly - ask them to follow up the meeting. Briefing notes are useful but do point out how the issues directly affect you and your family.

Do not be surprised if your MP only has a small amount of time to spare you. MPs will be very busy on the day, so don't take it personally. But make the most of the time you have with them.

After the mass lobby

1. Stay in contact with your MP. Continue to try and meet your MP in their constituency to follow up on what action they have taken or to raise the concerns with MPs you are unable to meet with on the day.

2. Follow up any local or national media interest

Have a great day.

(This help sheet is based on one produced by the union Amicus.)

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