188.8.131.52 Principles into Practice
Taking significant democratic action to correct practices associated with greed and injustice that hurt people and the environment.
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Most Parliamentarians will welcome you, show you respect and be pleased to hear what you have to say. The feedback from many is they appreciate being informed and asked to support hunger and poverty eradication - few people talk to their Parliamentarians about these issues. Many are also concerned and appreciate constituents asking them to take action on their behalf.
The following guide will help you arrange, conduct and follow up on a visit to your Parliamentarian.
1 If meeting your Member of Parliament is new experience for you, form a small team and go together - three is plenty. Choose someone who has experience to lead the meeting.
2 Develop a meeting plan i.e. who will lead the discussion for the team, introduce the team members and be the principal spokesperson.
3 Be very clear about the point of the meeting and the specific outcomes you want: Parliamentarian's time is short and they do not respect an aimless discussion.
4 Type up a meeting agenda with the following details:
o names, addresses and telephone numbers of constituents
o the stages of the meeting
o a pr飩s of the points you are making to your Parliamentarian
o a few key statistics to support your points, and
o the request you are making of him /her
The agenda should be made available to the Parliamentarian and could be faxed a day or so before the meeting.
5. Determine what information you intend to take and/or leave with your Parliamentarian videos are a helpful tool ? ensure they have a working video player before your meeting.
6 Call the Parliamentarian's office and ask his/her staff for a time to meet with the Parliamentarian. Have some alternative times and dates in mind. Confirm the amount of time you will be given: many Parliamentarians can allow between 30 and 45 minutes but this can vary depending on circumstances.
7 Call the Parliamentarian's office the day before to confirm your meeting.
8 Have a team meeting before your meeting ? have a dry run. Do this a day or so before. The team should meet an half hour before the meeting ? to talk about last minute things and get focussed.
9 Be at the Parliamentarian's office 5 minutes before the meeting. DO NOT BE LATE.
10 Dress appropriately. Being neat, clean and smart will create a professional image and help support your position.
Conducting the Meeting
1 The team leader should introduce the team to the Parliamentarian and explain the purpose of the meeting. The Parliamentarian should be given a copy of the agenda. At this point it would also be appropriate to acknowledge a recent action of the Parliamentarian or the government in support of hunger/poverty eradication.
2 Give your Parliamentarian the opportunity to say something about how he/she feels about the issue ? you might be impressed by what they tell you about their concern or prior action.
3. Work through the agenda in the order you have decided as a team. but where appropriate, be prepared to depart from it to achieve your required outcomes: no point going into a lengthy outline of something the Parliamentarian already knows a lot about.
4 Do not "lecture" your Parliamentarian. Engage them in a discussion of the issues. Ask him/ her what they think about the issues you are raising and work with their responses. This Parliamentarian could be the leader in the Parliament for hunger and poverty eradication ? treat them with the respect that would deserve.
5 If discussion moves to topics outside the agenda, the leader should acknowledge that the points might be interesting but relevant for a future meeting, then bring the discussion back to the point on the agenda.
6 If the Parliamentarian asks you a question you cannot answer, say you do not know and that you will find out and provide the information to them later.
7. Leave sufficient time in the meeting to ask the Parliamentarian what it is you want them to do on your behalf, and to discuss that if required. This is probably the main point of the meeting; do not ask them in the last 10 seconds of your meeting.
8. Keep track of time and keep to the time you have been allocated.
9 At the conclusion of the meeting the leader should wrap up discussion and confirm commitments ie what the Parliamentarian will do and what the Group will do.
10 Thank the Parliamentarian for their time and support
1 The Group should meet after the meeting to review its performance, allocate follow-up actions and complete a Parliamentarian Visit form: keep a copy for you Group's own records and send a copy to the national office. Develop a file on your Parliamentarian which you can use as a meeting planning aid for the next meeting.
2. Write a follow-up letter to the Parliamentarian thanking them for the meeting, confirming outcomes and commitments, and providing any information you promised to send. It should be signed by the leader.
3. Always do what you say you will do in follow-up: an unfulfilled commitment looks bad for your Group in the eyes of the Parliamentarian and you will feel badly about your own performance. If you cannot keep to your commitment contact the Parliamentarian and make an alternative arrangement. Remember you are developing a relationship with your representative ? you must act with professionalism and integrity if you want to be taken seriously.
Congratulations for visiting your Parliamentarian. You have taken a concrete step in having your Parliamentarian become a leader for the end of hunger and poverty.