Engaging with your local MP for the first time

A step by step guide to contacting your MP.

If you have never contacted your local MP before, you might be wondering where to start. As the election was only a few months ago, now is the perfect time to establish contact with newly elected MPs and to forge links with those who have been re-elected.
 
To help you engage with your MP if you have never done so before, we have produced a simple step-by-step guide to building constructive relationships with your local parliamentary representative. 

Step 1: Identify your MP 

Each MP represents a constituency and is bound to serve the people living within the area. The simplest way to locate your MP is by visiting the official Parliament UK website, where you can type in your organisation’s postcode into the ‘Find your MP’ search bar

You may find that your organisation spans a number of constituencies. MPs can legitimately make representations on behalf of their constituents who use services outside of their constituency. Consider engaging with these MPs too. 

Step 2: Get in touch 

MPs receive hundreds of letters and emails every day. Each MP will have a small staff dedicated to sifting through all correspondence. For first contact, it is therefore advisable to write a letter to your MP, signed by your chief executive or chair, and printed on letterhead paper.

Most MPs will be keen to establish links with their local housing associations soon after being elected, and a request for a meeting to make initial contact may be well received. Your initial letter should be positive and talk about all of the great work you do for the MP’s constituents so as to get off on the right foot (you can talk more about some of the challenges you face in your face-to-face meeting).

Letters should be addressed to the MP’s constituency office  which you can find when your search for your MP on www.parliament.uk

The months following the election will be a busy time for newly elected MPs – many will be hiring staff and setting up offices from scratch. It is always advisable to follow your letter with a phone call to the MP's constituency office, in the first instance, to arrange a time for a meeting. The phone number will be listed on their page on www.parliament.uk.

Step 3: Arrange a meeting or visit

In your initial letter, it would be worth offering a meeting so you can start to get to know the MP and their priorities. However, you could also add to this by offering them a visit to one of your developments, or show them round a successful scheme.
 
Unless Parliament is in recess (take a look a recess dates), MPs will spend Monday afternoon through to Thursday afternoon every week in Westminster. 

If you would like them to attend a specific meeting or event, it is advisable to offer a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Most MPs will hold regular constituency surgeries on a Friday or Saturday, where they will hold face-to-face appointments with constituents.

Step 4: Meet your MP

In preparation for your meeting or visit by the MP, research the MP’s background, as they may already have a good grasp of the housing issues in your constituency, or even previous work experience in the housing sector. Other MPs might have little detailed knowledge of housing policy. A good starting point is to check their website or to look at what they have said in Parliament about housing by searching for them on the website theyworkforyou.com 

You may find our range of resources helpful when preparing for a meeting – read our short briefing, look up data about the housing market in your MP’s constituency to reference and take a look at our background reading on the current housing policies. 

If you are inviting an MP to an event or on a site visit, make sure that you have fully briefed all those involved on the logistics around the visit. The less people involved in the visit, the easier it will be to have a conversation as you show the MP around your organisation.

If you are organising any media activity around the event, ask the MP in the first instance if they are happy for the local press to be invited. In some cases, the MP may prefer to contact the local press as they may have a pre-existing relationship and other visits on the same day as your event. 
 
Remember to share any draft press releases with the MP in advance and ask for a quote from the MP or use any photos taken during the visit. That way their staff will be more likely to mention the meeting/visit in their communication channels (Twitter, MP’s personal website, and weekly or monthly newsletters).

Step 5: Stay in touch

When following up with the MP, suggest regular meetings so you can keep them updated on your work. You may also want to ensure your communications team regularly monitors the MP's website or Twitter account. 

Need more help?

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact the Public Affairs Team.