Doorstepping differently: away from the campaign trail

Posted by Sam Reeve / Tuesday 13 June 2017 / General election Public Affairs
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Elections are a strange time in politics. 

In the space of just a few weeks, attention shifts away from Parliament as candidates battle it out for the right to represent constituencies up and down the country. Newspaper front pages are dominated by the handful of issues deemed decisive in the upcoming poll and letterboxes crammed with unprecedented quantities of campaign literature. 

And this is before we even consider the intricacies of hung parliaments, or the dominance of the #dogsatpollingstations hashtag on election day itself. 

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But elections are also really important in shaping how would-be MPs engage with voters and important issues, and the hundreds of miles covered by candidates in the build-up to polling day – even ahead of the most recent surprise election – are an opportunity to reset this relationship. 

Politics during this time, in effect, moves out of Westminster and hits the road. Doorsteps around the country become the focus of campaigning politicians, keen as they are to identify the issues important to potential constituents and understand the challenges being faced in their patch. 

With candidates increasingly motivated by local impact, Action for Children has been lending a helping hand and taking the opportunity to talk about the issues that are important to us. By inviting them to see first-hand some of the 600+ services we deliver, we have given candidates the chance to get to grips not only with the fantastic work we do and difference we make, but also with the specific needs we strive to meet.

The response has been brilliant! The opportunity to speak to our amazing staff and volunteers about the support they deliver and the tests they face, as well as young people about their own experiences, offers a unique insight for any politician into issues on their own doorstep. 

This should be a year-round activity, with politicians of all stripes finding themselves in amongst children and parents at Stay & Play sessions, exploring the benefits generated by Community Swap ‘n’ Shop, and hearing about the inventive programmes to help grandparents looking after little ones. 

As the dust settles and we reflect on another unpredictable election, one message is clear: getting politicians onto doorsteps (and into playgrounds) can make all the difference.

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