WE’RE already feeling the effects of climate change and the charity Hope For The Future believes most of us want to do something about it.
The Sheffield-based organisation offers pragmatic advice and training on how to engage with politicians over climate change, as getting the issue on to the national political agenda is key to building a sustainable future.
It is a strategy that is proving successful: so far the charity has trained thousands of people and has worked with almost 100 MPs.
Now in its sixth year, Hope For The Future found the task of engaging politicians on climate change to be its first and most significant challenge.
“Climate change can be seen as a career limiting move for politicians,” Jo Musker-Sherwood, the director of Hope For The Future, said, “When we first approached MPs there was often hesitance to be vocal on the issue.”
Hope For The Future realised the key to successful engagement was to lobby individual MPs on the environment-related matters that appealed to them and their constituencies. The charity interviewed politicians of all political persuasions to help campaigners tailor their approach and find common ground with local MPs.
“MPs were generous and often candid about their experiences, keen to see the benefits that improved campaigning could bring for everyone,” Jo said.
Building on their findings, Hope For The Future has developed a lobbying approach based in models of conflict resolution, counselling techniques and research into the rise of adversarial politics.
Their step-by-step guide to lobbying MPs has started to make significant headway with engaged MPs repeatedly speaking up in Parliament.
Notable successes have included constituents working with MPs towards legislative changes on solar energy in new builds and the standardisation of electric vehicle charging.
And the strength of feeling is clear, with hundreds turning up to constituency meetings organised by members of Hope For The Future across the UK. (MP Jo Johnson spoke at a busy meeting in Orpington pictured below).
“Our training is now commissioned by many of the major NGOs working on climate change,” Jo said.
“Each year it is our privilege to train over one thousand people in how to effectively lobby their MP on climate change.
“By equipping people with the skills to make their voices heard on climate change, Hope for the Future is working to create a healthier, more representative democracy and helping campaigners to encourage policy makers to take decisive action on climate change.”
The growing team now has 98 ‘engaged’ MPs in its network with plans to develop a strategy for every MP. Hope For The Future places increasing value on finding common ground between constituents and their MPs.
“We have far too many battles to start fighting each other,” Jo said, “We need to focus on the issues that are really important.”
- The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust makes a grant to Hope For The Future to support its climate lobbying training. The cross cutting grant is made as part of JRCT’s Power and Accountability and Sustainable Future programmes.
- Read more about Hope For The Future here.