EVAW Campaign guide for activists

The end violence against women and girls coalition have put together a helpful guide for campaign activists. The Content of the guide is featured below. Bristol Zero Tolerance have added information relevant to Bristol, for example links to Bristol Women’s Voice Hustings.


Putting Violence Against Women and Girls on candidates’ agendas 

  • Locating candidates
  • What to say
  • Template letter

What is this guide for?

On 8 June 2017 we will all elect our local MPs and a new Government will be formed. It is important that all candidates know that violence against women and girls is a problem in their area, and that as an MP they would have a lot of power to change law and policy in this area. This guide gives you advice on locating your local MP candidates and what to say to them, and other suggested actions to take in the run up to election day. If you get a response from the person who goes on to be elected, you could continue to communicate with them after polling day about work in this area.


Actions: What can I do to press candidates to take a stance on violence against women? 

  • Send a letter or email to candidates asking them to pledge action if they’re elected. There is a template letter/email at the end of this Guide which you could cut and paste. Information on locating your candidates is below.
  • Tweet @ your local candidates. There are some suggested tweets towards the end of this Guide. Information on locating your candidates on Twitter and Facebook is below.
  • Attend local hustings events. Go along and ask questions about violence against women and whether it is a priority for them. Note down any candidates’ comments/commitments and share these on social media if you use it. Also, use these notes to refer back to when corresponding with the person if they are elected, eg “at the hustings event in PLACE on DATE you said…” (Click here to find out more about Hustings taking place in Bristol)
  • Local media. Check your local newspaper(s) and see whether violence against women issues are coming up in their election reporting. Note which reporters are covering it. Email, write, tweet or Facebook them. Listen in to local talk radio – are they discussing the election, are there phone-in shows you could target? Are local online news outlets and community websites covering the election and is it likely that MP candidates and their teams are reading them? If so, put a message up saying this matters to you.
  • Be ready when they come canvassing! Think about what you want to ask any canvasser who might come knocking on your door. You could have the questions in the Template Email below to hand. Get their name, party and views. You could even ask for a photo and then tweet it (and copy EVAW in!)
  • Encourage friends and other local activists to do the same!

What should I ask candidates for election?

At the end of this Guide is a Template Letter/Email which you could cut and paste and send or candidates, and add in anything specific which is important to you. Broadly, we want all candidates to promise to use their powers to help end violence against women and girls – but the more specific we can make it, the better.

Our template letter suggests asking candidates whether, if elected, they will work to:

  • Protect women’s rights during Brexit
  • Protect women’s support services, which are facing severe financial pressure
  • Improve the police and courts response to violence against women
  • Ensure other public services – including health and the welfare system – also play their part in this area
  • Be a voice on ending abuse

What should I do with any reply I get?

In the run up to the election, whilst candidates are still campaigning, it would be great to share any major points (things you are happy or disappointed about) on social media. This can encourage other candidates to take a stance too. You may wish to tell one candidate that another has made a certain commitment to encourage healthy competition! Most candidates have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (more below).

If you copy any response you get to us, we can also help share it – for example on our Twitter (@EVAWuk), Facebook and on our website. Email us at: admin@evaw.org.uk putting General Election in the subject box, if you want to share any comments or letters.

And, keep any replies you get and after the elections hold successful candidates to account for their promises.


Suggested tweets:

If elected @[address of candidate] will you speak out on violence against women and girls? #GE2017

If elected @[address of candidate] will you work to end the postcode lottery of support services for women facing abuse? #GE2017

If elected @[address of candidate] will you work to improve the police and courts’ response to abuse of women and girls? #GE2017

If elected @[address of candidate] will you push to have GPs and hospitals get better at detecting abuse? #GE2017

If elected @[address of candidate] will you ensure women’s rights are protected during Brexit negotiations? #GE2017


CANDIDATES’ CONTACT DETAILS: How do I locate my local MP candidates and where do I send my letter / email?

**You can find information about the Candidates in Bristol by clicking here**

At time of writing in early May 2017 the political parties have selected most but not quite all of their candidates for local constituencies.

If you are starting totally from scratch begin by checking what constituency you live in by entering your postcode here:

https://constituencyfinder.digiminster.com/

If you want to read around a bit about your constituency you can do so here where there are useful facts including who won last time and how big their vote was. **This is important if you don’t have much time and want to be quite targeted – it will show you who the leading candidates are and you could decide to write only to the two or three candidates most likely to win. Political betting websites can also be a good source of information on what might happen: http://news.ladbrokes.com/politics

After 11 May, your local council website should have details of those who are standing for election in the local constituencies (many councils will have two or more MP constituencies in their boundaries). It is usually in a section visible on the home page called something like, ‘Council and Democracy’.

Once you have the name and party, you can Google them and for many you should find a campaign website (and/or Facebook page) which has either contact details including email, or an online form where you can cut and paste and submit an email. Look them up directly on Facebook and Twitter too and see how much they are interacting there.

In addition, the political parties themselves are now listing most if not all of their candidates:

Conservatives

https://www.conservatives.com/OurTeam/Prospective-Parliamentary-Candidates?by=constituency&Letter=A

You can search here by constituency.

Labour

http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/general-election-2017-candidate-list

You can search here by constituency.

Lib Dems

http://www.libdems.org.uk/ge_2017_candidate_list

Scottish National Party

https://www.snp.org/your_team

You can sort here by constituency.

For candidates from smaller and regional parties and for independent candidates please check local information.


TEMPLATE LETTER/EMAIL TO MP CANDIDATES:

[NAME OF CANDIDATE]

Parliamentary Candidate for [NAME OF CONSTITUENCY], [PARTY]

[CANDIDATE’S ADDRESS/EMAIL]

By letter / By email

[DATE]

Dear [NAME],

I write as a local resident in advance of the election on 8 June 2017 to draw your attention to the scale of violence against women and girls in our community, and to ask you to pledge that if elected you will take action on this.

Sadly, there are very high levels of violence against women and girls in our society. There are almost half a million sexual assaults, including 85,000 rapes, in England and Wales every year. There are more than a million calls to the police related to domestic violence. More hidden crimes including child sexual exploitation, forced marriage, FGM, trafficking and abuse of women in prostitution are known to happen in every police force area. Men and boys suffer some of these forms of abuse too, but it is very disproportionately women and girls who are victims.

As well as the human impact, which is felt by whole families, these crimes are very costly to our health service, our criminal justice system and to employers. I believe it is essential that whoever is elected MP for NAME OF AREA is knowledgeable about this and pledges to work to change law and policy in this area.

If elected as our local MP, will you:

  • Work to ensure that women’s rights are protected during Brexit negotiations? It is critical that the many advances in equality and human rights law which benefit women in the UK are protected. The Human Rights Act has been used, for example, to hold to account the police when they have failed families in domestic violence murder cases and trafficking.
  • Work to ensure that every woman and girl at risk can get the support she needs, whether it be crisis accommodation, counselling for abuse that happened many years ago or legal advocacy and advice? In recent years, local, women-led support services have faced enormous financial pressure. It is essential that changes are made to the way they are funded if they are to survive and to continue being a critical source of local expertise and training for those working in public services as well as providers of tailored support to women and girls in need.
  • Work to improve the way the criminal justice system handles crimes of violence against women? We need changes in law and policy around, for example, the use of victim-blaming sexual history evidence in our courts, and ensuring all women have access to legal aid and advocacy for as long as they need it.
  • Work to ensure that all public services, especially the health service, schools and the welfare system, play their part in tackling abuse? Considerable change is needed to ensure that health workers do not miss abuse; that welfare rules do not stigmatise abused women (such as the tax credits rape clause); that the asylum and immigration systems do not deter women from seeking protection; and that schools deliver the best possible Relationships and Sex Education.
  • Demonstrate open and clear local, public leadership on ending violence against women and girls? This matter needs everyone in public life to play a vocal part in naming abuse, prioritizing solutions and changing attitudes.

Many thanks for your attention to these important questions and I look forward to hearing from you soon. I will share any answer I receive from you with family and friends and possibly on social media.

Yours sincerely,

NAME, ADDRESS


Contact EVAW:

If you want help or advice, call or email us: admin@evaw.org.uk or 07960 744 502 or @EVAWuk . We are a small organisation but will try to get back to you asap. We will also put regular updates on our website at http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/ and will tweet non-stop @EVAWuk

Good luck!

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