Meeting our MP: what is next?

On Wednesday 26 June, 12,000 campaigners – 327 from Southwark- lined up along the Thames, excited to meet with their MPs to talk about the fate of our planet. There were constituents from all around Britain, from Northumberland to Devon! At least 300 MPs came, some didn’t, and some sent representatives. Here is a look back on the day from four CAFOD workers who all had very different experiences.  

Margaret- A Representative’s Talk

Orpington Constituents listen to their MP's representative
Orpington Constituents listen to their MP’s representative

Margaret and her constituents waited along the Thames for their MP to arrive, but no-one came. After over an hour, some of the constituents were just about to go home, when they got the news that a representative was on her way! Kate Hartwood arrived shortly after.  She apologised that Joseph Johnston hadn’t been able to come but was very happy to hear everyone’s concerns and feed back to Joseph Johnston.

The Time is Now Lobby

Margaret at TheTimeIsNow Lobby

Margaret said: “Roger Wright from St James’ Petts Wood and others spoke very passionately about the issues regarding climate change he felt the government in needed to address.  Kate listened very carefully and made lots of notes (on the back of the questions sheet issued by CAFOD!) that she promised to relay to Joseph Johnston.”

“It was great walking along the line to see so many MPs had come out to engage with constituents and to see so many campaigners turning out for the day!”

What is next? Keep asking for answers from your MP in writing or at his surgery. You can use our net zero MP briefing to help draft your letter or email and include this booklet for them to learn more about climate change and the environment.

Rosie- A visit to Parliament

Three constituents from the Erith and Thamesmead (representing CAFOD and the RSPB) were waiting on the bridge for Teresa Pearce when they got a phonecall from her assistant, inviting them into parliament! They queued up and had a bit of trouble with security when a ‘weapon’ was found in Rosie’s bag (it turned out to be her salad pot).

Teresa Pearce MP and CAFOD volunteer Rosie in the Houses of Parliament
Teresa Pearce MP and CAFOD volunteer Rosie in the Houses of Parliament

They went into Teresa’s office and all sat round a table with coffee. She had read all the briefing notes from the Climate Coalition and was extremely kind, friendly and passionate about acting now on climate change. In her own words: “It’s staggering what we (humanity) has done. Now is the time. There is no tomorrow unless we do this now, and the UK needs to lead on this”. She spoke about how this issue is a Christian issue, as Climate Change harms others and we are told to love your neighbour. “And in this global world” says Teresa “everyone is our neighbour”.

She promised to write to the new Prime Minister, to the newly appointed Shadow Minister for Climate Justice (Danielle Rowley), and to find out what is happening with a new environmental bill that has been proposed.

Rosie really enjoyed chatting with Teresa and learnt a lot. Teresa said that it is so important that there is public pressure on the government and on companies “to invest in energy that doesn’t destroy our children’s future” and that the church is a big pressure group for conservatives in particular. “If there is a collective will” she said, “the government will do it.”

“Public pressure on the government about climate change is so important” – Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith and Thamesmead

Her parting statement was that “climate change should be at the heart of everything we do, not an afterthought. It is a matter of equality, because poor countries suffer most.”

Rosie said “I thought the meeting with Teresa was amazing and I am so glad to have such an inspiring MP!”

What now? Did you meet your MP or a representative at TheTimeIsNow Lobby? Have you sent them a thank you email yet? You could also ask for a follow up meeting, or feedback on what steps they are going to take next. 

Sarah- No MP in Sight

Sarah had invited her MP for Gravesham Constituency, Adam Holloway, to the Lobby at the beginning of May 2019. A month later, she received a letter saying that he would not be attending. Although this was a great shame Sarah still felt it was essential to attend the Lobby “for such an urgent and important issue as the survival of our planet.”

Sarah, waiting for her MP

Sarah, waiting for her MP

Sarah was so glad to get to Southbank and meet 3 others from her constituency (together we were representing CAFOD, Christian Aid and Kent Wildlife Trust) who were all so passionate about making a positive change in the world. They took a photo together and sent it to Adam Holloway to let him know that even though he did not attend, they still went to the lobby. “We still went to the lobby”, says Sarah “because we know that this is an issue that cannot be ignored and it is one that is so important to the four of us and many others in our Constituency”.

Sarah has followed up with Adam Holloway since to ask if he could answer some of the questions that they would have asked him at the lobby by email instead.

Sarah says “I came away from the day feeling united with thousands of other people and with a renewed energy to continue taking both political and personal actions to protect and care for our common home.”

Did you wait for your MP with no avail like Sarah? Why not email them with your questions and perhaps send them a few photos from the event, to show them how important this issue is to you and your fellow constituents?  You can use our net zero MP briefing to help draft your letter or email and include this booklet for them to learn more about climate change and the environment.

Marine- A Talk along the Thames

MP Neil Coyle with his constituents

MP Neil Coyle with his constituents

This was Marine’s first mass lobby. She wrote to Neil Coyle, her MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark by email two months before the lobby. “A few weeks after”, says Marine “I received an answer explaining his actions on Climate Change (he is quite tuned in on the topic) at a local and more international level and a confirmation he would meet me at the Lobby.”

Marine never heard what time they would meet him so she decided to tweet him at 6am on the day saying she was looking forward to seeing him and was wondering the time to meet. He replied straight away he would be coming! Her day was starting well!

Marine and her fellow constituents wait for their MP!

Marine and her fellow constituents wait for their MP!

On the day Marine looked for her constituency at 1:30pm sharp and was very happy to see some of her neighbours, fellow CAFOD people and people she had never met! “We all had a chat on the issues we wanted to raise in our constituency and for the poorest communities in the world. Then the long wait started… Happily the sun was shining and we were all quite jolly!” Says Marine.

22 Students from joined the Bermondsey and Old Southwark group!

22 Students from a local school joined the Bermondsey and Old Southwark group!

They didn’t know when Neil would arrive so they decided to send tweets with pictures of their group growing every 30 min. They finally got a tweet back saying he would come at 3:30pm. “By then we were all ready to have a good chat.” Says Marine. “At this point a group of 22 young ladies from a local school turned up! Our group was looking so good!”

A little after 3:30pm Neil Coyle arrived and had a good listen to what they had to say, had strong replies and views and was so open and clear on how he wanted to move forward. He was also very clear on his open door policy at his surgery for any further meetings. “Now….” Says Marine, “I will make sure I keep him accountable to his word and will follow his voting and remind him on regular basis my goal for our common home.”

Overall, it was a great day and one to be celebrated. Thank you to everyone who came, whether your MP did or not, to show your concern for our planet and how much you care about these issues. 

What next? Visit our website for ideas of how to change the fate of some of the poorest people in the world (who are most vulnerable to climate change), from hosting a Creation Celebration in your Parish, to fundraising, to becoming a live simply community.   



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