We can’t say for certain that there will be a general election in the autumn or in the new year, but all of the political parties are ready for just such an eventuality and it is critically important that the community, voluntary and charity sector is equally ready to mobilise once the ‘starting gun’ is fired.
The political system in Ireland allows citizens a unique level of access to their elected representatives. Working individually, this access allows groups to shine a light on the specific challenges they face, but working collectively through The Wheel this access can be harnessed to highlight the shared issues facing our sector and find innovative solutions that benefit society.
The key elements of our General Election campaign – Stronger Charities. Stronger Communities - are:
Phase 1: Build interest from, and capacity within, charities community groups around the country to believe in themselves as change-makers in the context of a general election.
To achieve this, in May and June we ran full-day training sessions in Galway, Kells, Waterford, Claremorris and Dublin to provide community groups with the knowledge and expertise to lobby local representatives for the causes promoted by their own organisations. More than 120 people participated in these free events and 70% of them expressed interest in getting involved in our Stronger Charities Stronger Communities campaign ahead of the next general election
We then implemented a plan to help trainees put those new skills into practice through direct lobbying of local representatives outside the context of an election. Specifically, on July 6 and 7 this year we coordinated joint action for our members encouraging them to set up meetings with their TDs and to communicate clear, solution-driven ‘asks’ about their own issues. If they were unable to make an appointment we asked them to send a letter, send an email or phone. To make this as easy as possible for them, we shared the following resources:
- Find your local TD’s contact details here - https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/members/tds/
- A purpose-designed toolkit to support organisations to emphasise successfully the important issues affecting the people their organisation serves. The toolkit will equip people in communities to become effective policy influencers. The toolkit is freely available to members of The Wheel here.
Our members took an impressive step forward with this concerted and coordinated action that highlighted public policy issues that were important to the people their organisations serve. It has also whetted the appetite and been a dry run for further community-action to advance the sector’s general election ‘asks’.
Phase 2: Roll out the actual general election campaign for the charities-sector, delivered locally, and coordinated nationally by The Wheel.
It will run throughout Autumn 2018 and has the following elements:
- Clear, compelling messaging that is useable at a local level and which is about issues affecting all charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises
- The provision of support by The Wheel to the engaged volunteers identified from the training events in phase 1 with a view to them acting as local ‘charity champions’ for the sector in the lead up to General Election
- Further training around communicating key messages – including webinars and/or face-to-face training
- Providing participants access to a database of candidates for the next General Election and template communications that they can use/
And thus through the collective efforts of community organisations across the country we can have a significant impact at national level. Find more information on lobbying here.
To join this campaign and to support our campaign messages for charities, community & voluntary organisations and social enterprises, please get in touch as we’d be delighted to welcome you! Contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org.