Project empowers parents to lobby MPs for change

Adam Ravenscroft is a pupil at Calday Grange Grammar School in West Kirby. As part of his work placement with Birkenhead News, he documented his visit to parliament to lobby MPs.

Changing Realities, a nationwide project operated by the Child Poverty Action Group and York University, had the chance to lobby parliament.

Changing Realities (Originally Covid Realities) is a campaign project, with low-income parents being tasked to write monthly journal entries about their experiences throughout the cost-of-living crisis. It is run by York University in conjunction with the Child Poverty Action Group.

The project recently undertook the immense task of lobbying participants’ MPs from across the country, and I was provided the opportunity to take part.

The letter exhibited at the Wellcome Trust gallery

We began our day with a visit to the gallery at Camden’s Wellcome Trust. The participants had previously compiled a letter to the Prime Minister, which the gallery had kindly exhibited. This was a sensational moment for the group, “I can recognise so many voices” as one participant exclaimed.

The group split, with some proceeding to Portcullis House – one of the many office buildings for the country’s 650 MPs.

Only four of the requested eight MPs went through with their meetings; including Wirral West’s Margaret Greenwood.

I was able to accompany the participant meeting her. After providing a carefully prepared speech regarding their feelings on the cost-of-living crisis “We want to be treated as human beings BY human beings”, the participant asked Ms Greenwood four questions:

  • “How does the Labour Party differentiate itself from other parties?”, Ms Greenwood stated that Labour aims to “put people at the centre”, and to restrict “extreme profits”.
  • “Will changes to university fees discourage those in poverty from seeking higher education? Is it only allowing the wealthy to benefit?”. Ms Greenwood personally agreed that increasing university fees are problematic. She claimed that we should “invest in an educated society”, and pointed out the party’s previous policies.
  • “Are price caps really effective?”, Ms Greenwood brought up how it depends on family budgets, and the argument of numerous businesses going bust, such as Thames Water.
  • “Is it appropriate for Boris Johnson to have an honours list, even with his barber on it?”, This was an instant no from Ms Greenwood. She made clear that she believes there should be a parliamentary election to determine whether or not it should be implemented.

Using the remaining time, I was able to ask my own question; “When will the extreme bias and monetary burden for young people end?”. Ms Greenwood stated that Labour’s promises could work to tackle the issue, such as offering jobs in an expanding green energy industry.

The meeting ended with her offering to provide more detailed responses in an email to the participant.

We were then guided through a private tunnel directly into Westminster Palace by Greenwood’s assistant, where all of the participants regrouped to be given a tour. We were shown various parts of the palace which were open to the public, including Westminster Hall and St Stephen’s Hall.

Overall, this visit was an eye-opener for all involved parties – for participants, it revealed the political processes and minds behind our country, whilst for our MPs, it provided a deeper insight into the lives of their constituents and their passion for change.

This trip illuminated something I never expected; The power of community. Despite the participants only ever meeting online, they worked and talked as a family throughout.

Despite their situations, they always had a positive outlook. Despite the seriousness of their cause, they could still be light-hearted. It took me only one evening to call the group home.

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