How can I make a difference?
Whatever change you would like to see, planning is key. Try to work out who has the power to make the change and how you can influence them.
Having an anti-whatever party at your house might be fun, but it is unlikely to influence very much in the long term. Unless your house is in Downing Street.
Also, be clear of your aims. Having one, huge aim can be very dispiriting. Small, achievable steps can be much more rewarding and show people the progress you are making. In itself, that can draw people to your cause.
Here are a few ways that you can try out. Please don’t be disheartened if you don’t immediately get the change you wanted. From 1897, it took over 30 years for Women to get the same voting rights as men. That was with a huge number of people, resources and publicity.
Get in touch with people. If you have real, clear and evidenced reasons for making a change – share them! Most importantly, share them with people that can help. You probably do not have the phone number of the Prime Minister. Your local MP, though, will have a number you can call to get in touch. They can speak to powerful people on your behalf.
This used to be all about writing letters. These days, though, MPs are available across many forms of communication. They will also run a surgery, where you can drop in and see them in person, near you. So – go and make your case. See what they say.
Finally – use the law making process. There are clear times when Bills can be changed. Approach your MP with that timeframe in mind. Don’t forget that the House of Lords also makes changes to Bills. Try getting in touch with an interested Lord or Baroness, too.
Start a petition. If you want to change something, chances are you’re not alone. You can start to show the people in power how many people support you by starting a petition. This used to be done by standing on busy streets for entire weekends. While that certainly felt like it was making a difference, online petitions are much easier and can gain far more support. They also have a track record of success. Have a look at this or this to see the wide reaching successes that people have had from starting their own petitions.
Fundraise. Many campaigns desperately need money. If you can find a group who are trying to make the changes you want, you can raise money for them. This can be anything from car boot sales, to parties and film nights. There are lots of places that can help with fundraising, but try to be imaginative!
Volunteer. Gandhi suggested that we should ‘be the change we want to see’. When it comes to making an impact it really is true. Not only will you be helping immediately, you can be contributing to the culture change that is often needed for laws to follow.
As an individual, the level of impact that you can have can only be limited. There are 65 million or so people in the country, so your voice can only be one of many. Collective action is often the way ahead.
Pressure Groups. While the term feels a bit out of date, groups of people seeking to make the change together have quite a lot of impact. Some groups are very single issue focused, while others are more general. Just by joining and paying a monthly fee you can often be helping to make a real change. It may not feel as instantly rewarding as dragging yourself through a busy high street collecting signatures, but you will be facilitating professional campaigners to make your point heard.
Mass protest. These are real demonstrations of strength. Usually organised by a pressure group, or a group of pressure groups, these show the people in charge the depth of public feeling around an issue.