While political commentators aren’t sure of exactly when, it’s almost certain we will have a general election at some point in 2024.
Most people associate elections with the few weeks before polling day, but the year before an election can be a fantastic opportunity for not-for-profit organisations to engage with political parties and candidates to raise awareness of their concerns and drive their mission forward. MPs are in listening mode as they're keen to show they care about local issues in a bid to keep their seats, while prospective parliamentary candidates want to make themselves known within local communities. Therefore, using the run up to an election to forge relationships with key stakeholders can mean charities can continue to influence effectively in the years to come. So, even if you have never campaigned before, now is the time to start.
While homelessness and rough sleeping have risen sharply in recent years and prolonged inflation means many homelessness services have been struggling to make ends meet, we believe the next Government has the opportunity to embed policies that properly address the root causes of homelessness, while also giving services a more stable environment in which to work in.
The ambitions we have set out in our Manifesto to End Homelessness builds on work with our members, engagement with specialists and experts and on the rich body of evidence on what works to end homelessness.
Our manifesto is ambitious. It can only become a reality if the homelessness sector comes together and makes itself heard.
We know homelessness services are extremely busy. That’s why we’ve published our General Election Campaign Toolkit, which has all the information you need to get involved in the campaign; including how to identify candidates in the areas in which you work, template letters to send to them, tips for meeting with them and how to keep the relationship going afterwards. We know that charities are concerned about the rules governing charity campaigning in the run up to an election, so the toolkit also includes a summary of these guidelines.
It shouldn’t take longer than an hour to send out initial letters and we at Homeless Link are happy to provide help at any stage, from contacting candidates, to helping set up and attending meetings/service visits.
I will also be sending out fortnightly updates about the campaign, so if you don’t already receive the campaign specific newsletter please email me and I will add you to the list (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ending homelessness in England is possible, but only if the homelessness sector bands together as one to make itself heard. The looming general election is our best opportunity yet to do that.