Mass Lobby of Parliament FAQs

What is a mass lobby?

A mass lobby of parliament is when a large group of people all arrange to meet with their MP in Parliament on the same day. This provides a supportive and organised environment for everyone to meet with their MP in person and is also a powerful way to raise awareness of your campaign.

What is the purpose of this event?

Late June will mark one year since the publication of the Ministry of Justice’s Female Offender Strategy which set out a commitment to reduce the women’s prison population. Central to the success of the ‘Female Offender Strategy’ is for investment, growth and sustainability of specialist community-based women’s centres and services. The purpose of the lobby is to raise the profile of these services, call for funding and build stronger relationships with MPs to act as champions for this campaign in Parliament. The Ministry of Justice has just received £80m from the sale of HMP Holloway and so we will be asking for this money to be spent on community-based support services for women. You may wish to raise other areas of the campaign such as the plight of those stuck in prison on an IPP sentence, the impact of imprisonment in children, or the rate of recall for women upon release from prison for example. Please do raise these issues alongside the solution which is for growth and investment in specialist community based support services.

Who is organising this event?

Women in Prison is hosting and organising this event. The lobby has kindly been sponsored by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. The lobby is being organised by WIP’s Campaigns Team for all queries please contact the Campaigns & Public Affairs Manager Claire Cain – claire.cain@wipuk.org or call the office main line on 0207 359 6674 

When and where is the mass lobby?

The lobby is on Wednesday 26th June in Parliament, Westminster. However WIP has also booked the Upper Hall in the Emmanuel Centre just outside Parliament as a base for the day.

9-23 Marsham St, Westminster, London SW1P 3DW (https://www.emmanuelcentre.com/). WIP has access to this Centre 8am-6pm which includes our set up and take down time.

What about Brexit/General Election/Climate Change Mass Lobby?

It is still possible that on 26th June Brexit will still be dominating MP’s time or we may be in the middle of a General Election. We will continue to organise this event and adapt to external circumstances. We appreciate that travelling to Parliament is a huge use of resources for support services and individuals and want to ensure that everyone gets the most out of the day. This date will still be one year since the publication of the “Female Offender Strategy” so if we don’t get the level of engagement with MPs that we are hoping for we still think we could use this chance for us to come together in other effective ways? We will keep up the communications in the lead up to the event to discuss options.

You may also see that there is a large environmental mass lobby on Climate Change happening on the same day. The good news is that this lobby is taking place outside of Parliament in the afternoon. We have our own spaces booked in Parliament and the Emmanuel Centre so while the surrounding area to Parliament will be busy (and transport) it shouldn’t cause too much disruption and may actually be a fun campaign to see in action. We have been reassured that this also shouldn’t impact on MP’s meeting with us. They always have a packed diary with lots of meetings throughout the day and they will prioritise all constituents. We have emailed all MPs about our lobby and had many positive responses.

How accessible is this event?

If you have any accessibility needs then please inform WIP on the contact above to make us aware as there are plenty of ways we can accommodate any particular needs to ensure that everyone is able to participate in this event, for example by arranging speedy access through Parliament security so that you do not need to queue.

How do I get involved?

Step 1 is to register by completing the form on our website: https://www.womeninprison.org.uk/news-and-campaigns.php?s=2018-12-19-mass-lobby-of-parliament So we get an accurate number of attendance please register all individuals who are attending (you don’t have to enter an email address). Following this we will keep you updated about the event in the lead up to Wednesday 26th June.

Do I need to pre-arrange a meeting with my MP? How do I do this?

Please contact your MP in advance of the 26th June to avoid disappointment. Please use our TEMPLATE EMAIL to contact your MP. It may be the case that there are a few of you to see one MP. Your MP may arrange a time for everyone to meet at the same time. We will try to connect you/introduce you to others in your constituency so that you could meet up at the Emmanuel Centre before meeting with your MP. If due to personal reasons you would like to meet your MP on your own (so you are able to share your personal experience for instance) then we can help to arrange this. If you are representing a Women’s Centre then please contact all the MP’s that your Centre covers so we can meet with as many MPs as we can on the day. We could try to organise one meeting with several MPs. If for any reason you do not wish to meet with your constituency MP or they are unable to meet on the day then please contact WIP (claire.cain@wipuk.org) and we could look into you meeting with a different relevant MP (a member of the Justice Select Committee, or a Shadow Justice Minister for example).

What if I do not hear from my MP?

If you haven’t pre-booked a meeting with your MP then you can go to Central Lobby in Parliament and complete a ‘Green Card’. This is an invitation which officials will deliver to your MP inviting them to meet with you in Central Lobby. If the MP is unavailable then they may be able to send a staff member to meet with you instead. To avoid disappointment it is best to contact your MP in advance. We could also arrange for you to meet with a different MP such as a member of the Justice Select Committee or a Shadow Justice Minister for example. Please contact WIP’s Campaigns & Public Affairs Manager with any issues claire.cain@wipuk.org

How do I talk to my MP? How do I present my case for change?

In advance of Wednesday 26th June and on the day itself you will be given guidance on speaking with your MP and information to support your meeting. You will receive top tips on speaking with your MP, local stats and the key points to make in your meeting.

How do I get through security in Parliament? Do I need ID?

You do not need ID to enter Parliament and meet with your MP. When going into Parliament or Portcullis House (where many MP’s have their office) you will need to go through an airport style security. Your bag and coat will go through a scanner and you will need to walk through a metal detector. If the detector beeps you may be patted down by a security guard of the same sex. Inside Parliament there are some armed Police Officers on patrol.

Can I claim back my travel expenses?

This event is kindly being sponsored by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and we are able to reimburse some travel expenses. This budget is being prioritised for Women’s Centre representatives (staff, volunteers, trustees) and for any individual who has been affected by the criminal justice system. Please see our Mass Lobby Expenses Policy for further details and contact Claire with any queries.

Will there be somewhere I can get lunch and use the facilities?

The Upper Hall in the Emmanuel Centre will be our base for the day. We will provide some refreshments on site and there are toilets. You can bring your own lunch with space to eat in the Upper Hall. There are also toilets in Parliament and a café should you wish to purchase any food.

Will there be media/photography at this event?

Whilst media coverage is not a priority for us at this event we may have some journalists present. We will also take photographs to document the day and to post on social media, our website and publish in our magazine. We will operate a badge opt-out system. Anyone wearing a badge will not have any photographs of them published and will not be approached by the media.

How can I make the most out of the day?

The Mass Lobby of Parliament is about engaging in democracy and learning more about Parliament. It may be that your MP will also show you around Parliament and if not then take the chance to have a look around. There may be an exhibition on display, or you might be able to go into the public gallery to view a debate in the House of Commons. There is also the new Suffragette statue in Parliament square (we will give everyone a map with key locations).

In the Emmanuel Centre we will have information or stalls about campaigns and organisations that you may wish to get involved in. We will have a crafting corner and somewhere for you to meet other campaigners and have a cup of tea and a cake.

At 4pm we will have a rally in the Centre with several speakers including from the Ministry of Justice.