Knock Knock, Governments Care

Knock Knock, Governments Care
Main Topic
Solidarity - Civic Activities
Additional Topic(s)
Solidarity - Participation
Solidarity - Social Activities
Duration
1-2 hours
Implementation Mode
Indoor F2F
Goal(s)
● Realize ability to contact elected local representatives about issue(s) in their area;

● Format and write an effective letter to government representatives lobbying about issues that exist within local communities.



Expected Results

Upon completing this activity, young people will better understand how to write a formal letter which can be used to communicate with local officials. They can use this knowledge in order to highlight issues that they want addressed in their area.
Overview of Activity
Communicating with local decision makers can be a great way for citizens to have a positive and tangible impact on their local community. And this activity will showcase how easy it is to communicate with them.



Constructed as a “Town Hall Meeting” style activity, participants will learn how to communicate appropriately and efficiently, between themselves and with local decision makers/politicians/councilors, regarding issues/topics of interest in their area.



Participants will come together to discuss points of interest in their areas/issues they have identified in their locality and to write a letter to their local council to ask for the point of interest/issue to be addressed.
Description of Activity
1. Watch up to 1 minute 30 seconds of "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLZ7nwTI5rM">Video #1. The video details what ‘lobbying’ is and the positive and negative aspects of it. This video will give a better understanding of this activity and link well with future Steps of the activity.



2. Individually, think about an issue within your area that you think needs to be addressed.

● Issue examples: anti-social behaviour, a dangerous junction, lack of pedestrian crossings near a school, lack of bike parking in the town centre, no trees planted on your road. (5 minutes)



3. Having decided on an issue you would like to address, use the following prompts to help explain and give substance to it. You can use a piece of paper to take notes of your issue as you will be asked to ‘pitch’ it later:
● What is the issue?

● Why do you think it is an issue?

● What is your experience with this issue?

● Why does it need to be resolved?

● How do you think it is best to resolve this issue?

● How will the community benefit from the issue being resolved? (10)



4. Once complete, every participant is given the opportunity to ‘pitch’ their issue. The first round of pitches will be everyone individually. Every participant is given the opportunity to share what issue they think needs to be addressed, and to suggest a way to resolve the issue. These pitches should be short, 1 – 2 minutes. (30 mins)



5. After pitches, ask whether anyone resonated more with an ‘issue’ of someone else’s than their own; did anyone think someone else’s ‘issue’ was more important to address



6. Watch Video #2 – "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAZXFELMd2w">What is an interest group?



7. The group will now have to form ‘interest groups’. Participants now have the opportunity to either (1) join someone else in fighting for an issue you think to be more important/resonated more with you, or (2) attempt to enlist participants by explaining why your issue needs more support (20 mins)
(Allow this stage of the activity to evolve naturally for the first few minutes. After some time some extra facilitation might be needed in order for extra pitches by individuals or forming ‘interest groups’).



8. The final step will be to write a letter (See appendix 1 & 2 in Notes below) to the local council/politician in order to have it addressed and resolved. It would be useful at this stage to also visit a local authority website such as: "https://www.meath.ie/">Meath County Council providing Council, Business and Tourism Services for County Meath | Meath.ie, to navigate through and become familiar with who, and what teams, you can communicate with in a council.


If ‘interest groups’ are formed, each group can complete this step together or it can be done on one issue as a whole group.
N.B. This is just a mock letter and will not be actually sent to anyone.


Sources & Additional Materials
● Paper & pen;

● Whiteboard, flip chart

● Laptop/computer

● Projector or equivalent

● Local Government Website



Sources:

1. "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLZ7nwTI5rM">Information video for Lobbying.ie - YouTube – ‘lobbying’ (in an Irish context) (watch until 1:30 mins)

2. "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAZXFELMd2w">What is an interest group? - YouTube – ‘interest groups’ explainer video (2.05 mins)
Additional Notes
Appendix 1 – "https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ioOOV8wvsoJcyAOFoZhles-wlAv22-Y8/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=112928095217982208089&rtpof=true&sd=true">writing a letter guide

The ‘How to write a letter’ link above is a good example of a letter and can be used as an aide for guidance on writing the letter(s)

Appendix 2 - "https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/AdviserNet/CASDocuments/How to write a letter to your local councillor or MSP.pdf">How to write a letter (citizensadvice.org.uk)

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