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Guide To Lobbying
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Guide To Lobbying


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  • 1. Will your candidates stand up for autism? In 2010 there will be a general election in the United Kingdom. We need your help to make sure that everyone who might become an Member of Parliament after the general election knows about autism and will stand up for people with autism if they are elected. The people who might become MPs after the election are called parliamentary candidates. This guide tells you: 1. more about who Members of Parliament are and what they do 2. more about what a general election is 3. why it is important to tell your parliamentary candidates about autism 4. some ideas about what you can say to your parliamentary candidates 5. how to contact your parliamentary candidates
  • 2. If you have questions about what you read in this guide, or would like more help to tell your parliamentary candidates about autism, you can contact the NAS Campaigns Team: Email – Phone – 020 7923 5799 Write to – The National Autistic Society, 393 City Road, London, EC1V 1NG
  • 3. 1. Who are Members of Parliament and what do they do? Members of Parliament are called MPs. There are 646 MPs who each represent a different part of the United Kingdom. The part of the United Kingdom that an MP represents is called their constituency. MPs work at Parliament. This is where they talk about making new laws or changing old ones. Laws are the rules which tell us what we can do. For example, it is law that children have to go to school. Most MPs are members of political parties. Political parties are groups of people who have different ideas about laws. The party with the most MPs is the Government. The Government decides how much money to spend on different things such as hospitals, roads and schools. One MP from the party with the most MPs becomes the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is in charge of Government. Other MPs from the party with the most MPs become ministers in the Government. Each minister is in charge of different things like schools and hospital. MPs who are not the Prime Minister or a Government minister are called backbenchers. They are still important because they have a vote when laws are being made.
  • 4. MPs who are backbenchers also help to make sure that the Government is doing a good job by asking them questions in Parliament. There are lots of things that MPs can do to help people with autism: All MPs have a vote when new laws are being made. They can use their vote to help make laws better for people with autism. MPs who are backbenchers can ask the Government questions about the things that they are doing to help people with autism. MPs who are Government minister or even the Prime Minister help make decisions about how money will be spent, including on services for people with autism. MPs can also ask the people who make decisions about local services, like your council, how they are helping people with autism.
  • 5. 2. What is a general election? A general election is when people from across the United Kingdom choose who their MP is. In each constituency there will be several people who want to become an MP after the general election. They are called candidates. When the general election happens, the people who live in the constituency vote for the candidate that they want to be their Member of Parliament. The candidate that gets the most votes becomes the MP for that constituency. About voting Almost everyone who is aged 18 and over can vote in a general election and everyone’s vote is equally important. The Electoral Commission have written easy to read guides to voting that tell you more about how to vote and why it is important. There are different guides for people who live in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. You can read the guides on the internet at: f/easy-read-guide-to-voting Or you can contact the Electoral Commission by calling 0845 8500 501 or emailing
  • 6. Why is it important to tell your candidates about autism? Before the general election, candidates say what things they would do if they became an MP. Candidates hope that people will think that the things they say they would do are good ideas and vote for them. That means it is a good time to ask candidates to help people with autism if they become an MP. They will need to know about autism so they know how they can help. What should I say to my candidates about autism? There are lots of things that you could say about autism. We have written some ideas here, but there might be other things that you want to tell your candidates too. For example, if you have autism, or you are a family member of someone with autism you could tell your candidates about your own experiences. That will help them to understand more about autism and the help that people need. Some other things you could say are: - One person in every 100 has autism. That’s half a million people in the UK. But lots of people don’t know how many people have autism. - Autism is a lifelong disability. That means that it affects children and adults. - People with autism find it difficult to tell people what they need, and how they feel. They find it difficult to meet other people and to make new friends. They find it difficult to understand what other people think. - But with the right help people with autism can still do a lot of things and learn a lot of skills. - Every person with autism is different. But there are some problems that affect lots of people with autism.
  • 7. o Lots of children with autism don’t get the help they need at school. Some of the things that would change that are:  if every local area had schools that were good for children with autism  if teachers and other people who work in schools knew more about autism  if schools made better plans about how they will help children with autism o Lots of adults with autism don’t get the help they need. Some of the things that would change that are:  if local areas knew how many adults with autism lived in their area so they can make plans about services  if more people who work with adults with autism understood how they can help them  if there was more help for adults with autism o Lots of adults with autism want to work. They should get help to find a job. Some adults with autism can’t work. They should be able to get benefits from the Government. But often they find it hard to get the help they need. o One of the types of support that helps lots of people with autism is called social care. Social care is help for people with their day-to-day lives. It could mean help with making a meal. It could also mean help to do the things you like to do. Often people talk about the social care that older people need, but there are lots of younger disabled people who also need social care. That includes lots of people with autism. o The government has written a plan for England about how to make help for adults with autism better, called the Adult Autism Strategy. We will need MPs help to make sure that the plan is put into practice. There are also plans about help for people with autism in Wales and Northern Ireland, and the NAS is campaigning for a law in Scotland which would mean that the Scottish Government had to write a plan about helping people with autism. If your candidates want to find out more about autism, they can also contact The National Autistic Society by calling 020 7923 5799 or emailing
  • 8. How to contact your candidates There are lots of different ways to tell your candidates about autism. You could: - write a letter about autism to your candidates - write an email about autism to your candidates - you could ask to meet your candidates face-to-face to talk to them about autism - candidates sometimes go to meetings called hustings where local people can ask them questions about what they would do if they became an MP. You could go to a husting to ask your candidates a question about autism. You can find out if there are any hustings in your area by asking one of your candidates, or looking out for notices in places like your local library. - candidates try to talk to as many local people as possible during the election. So one of your candidates may come to your house. If they come to your house, you don’t have to talk to them. But if you want to talk to them, it will be a chance to tell them about autism. - candidates read local papers, so you could write to your local paper about autism. There is a letter to help you do this on the NAS website - sometimes candidates are guests on local radio shows. If they are, you could phone the show to ask a question about autism. - if you are a member of a local autism group, you could invite your candidates to come to one of your meetings. There is a letter to help you do this on the NAS website
  • 9. You can find out who your candidates are on the NAS website at Once the general election has been officially announced, we will put more information on our website. Then you will be able to: - take part in our campaigner action by sending an email to your candidates asking them to stand up for autism if they are elected - tell us what you would do if you were Prime Minister for a day - apply to get support and training to help you to meet your MP regularly after the general election - find out what other organisations are doing to prepare for the election and how you can get involved If you don’t use the internet, you can also call the NAS campaigns team on 020 7923 5799 to find out who your candidates are, or more about how you can get involved.