CAFOD MP Correspondents (MPC) write to their MP about issues of global justice, usually (but not exclusively) in connection with CAFOD campaigns. Through these letters, correspondents build a personal connection with their MP, grab their attention and give them a mandate to act. MPCs cover about 80% of the constituencies, that is over 450 MPs. This has the real potential to influence government international and domestic policy. It isn’t an onerous role either and is ideal for people who would like to make a difference by volunteering but feel they have not much time to give.
MPCs from across the country were invited to meet MPs in Parliament on 17 October. The aim was to raise issues with approximately 60 MPs on World Poverty and overseas aid. Several other agencies were also involved, including Save the Children, UNICEF, and VSO. Each participant was asked to contact their MP in advance to arrange a meeting during the afternoon.
John Barker, one of our diocese MPCs representing the East Oxford constituency, was there to meet his newly elected MP Annalise Dobbs. There were also four other representatives from different agencies, making East Oxford the best represented constituency. John tells us:
Initially, Ms Dobbs said was unable to attend because of Parliamentary Business. However, she considered the issues so important that at the last minute decided to reschedule her appointments to meet with us for about half an hour. Although this gave us little time to prepare, we were able to explain the reason for our visit to Parliament and raise many issues. We urged Ms Dobbs to support maintaining the Government’s commitment to overseas aid and oppose any attempt to divert funding elsewhere, thereby lessening the impact of UK funded aid programmes.
Everyone felt it was a very successful day. In particular, it was useful to discover synergies and network with representatives from other agencies, as well as meeting CAFOD MPC from different constituencies. With this new impetus, the East Oxford group agreed to keep in touch and support each other in their efforts to lobby their MP.