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Get involved as an organisation

There are several ways in which your organisation or group can raise carers’ issues or concerns without being party political or damaging your impartiality.

What you can do to encourage carers to get involved

Encourage carers to register and use their vote

Before postal votes were introduced, many carers found it hard to get to the polling station. Make sure carers know they can get a postal vote. The people they care for should also be registered to vote and to have a postal vote. To register to vote or register for a postal vote go to About my vote.

Let carers know about Carers UK’s general election campaign

Put the link on your website to direct people to our campaign. Encourage carers to get involved using our campaign resources, and to send a copy of our short manifesto to their local candidates – click here to find out more.

Tell carers to share their stories and make their voices heard

Make sure carers know about the opportunities for getting their voice heard and encourage them to speak out through radio, TV, websites, newspapers and social media as well as raising issues with candidates. On the Carers UK website there is a form carers can complete to share their story with us and let us know if they're interested in media opportunities.

Charity and electoral law – advice for organisations

If you are a charity you must first of all ensure that you are complying with charity law. Any charity has to abide by charity law which means that any campaigning that they do must be balanced, well-evidenced and in line with delivering the aims and objective of the work that the charity is tasked to do. 

Charities are free to approach the candidates in an election, setting out the charity’s concerns and asking for the candidates’ opinions on them.  However, a charity cannot publish these opinions and compare one candidate with another.

Charities should be especially wary of associating, or becoming associated in the minds of the public, with a particular candidate or political party. This also has implications under electoral law. Charities must not support a particular candidate or candidates.

Charities must not assist candidates with their election campaigns, financially or otherwise.  Officers and employees of a charity should not use their position in any of the charity’s campaigning activities in such a way as to suggest that the charity endorses the candidate.

If an employee is directly engaged in a charity’s campaigning activity, and also has personal involvement with one particular political party, for example, they are standing as a candidate, they should declare this to their employer.  The Trustees should then consider this potential conflict of interest and assess the risk to the charity in terms of both reputation and legal liability of the person taking on both roles simultaneously.

Whether or not you are a charity, as an organisation you must make sure that you comply with electoral law.

In brief, where organisations and individuals representing organisations campaign in a way that could reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against political parties, this activity is regulated and spending limits apply, and organisations may have to register this activity with the Electoral Commission and report to them on how much they spend on these activities.

If you are unsure whether the activity you are carrying out is regulated in this way, you should refer to the Electoral Commission guidance and if still unsure consult the Commission themselves. 

Contacting your local candidates

Prospective Parliamentary Candidates: These are people who register to become candidates for election.  If your current MP is seeking re-election they will also become a prospective parliamentary candidate as soon as the election is called.

Write to all your local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates. 

  • Let them know how many carers there are in the constituency and how many people in their constituency take on a caring role each year.
  • Let them know the top five areas of concern for carers in the local constituency.
  • Give them a copy of Carers UK’s summary manifesto.
  • Invite them to visit your group.
  • Send a copy of the letter that you write to the candidates to your local paper, but ensure that you keep this letter broadly about the issues affecting carers and do not favour any particular party. 

Organise or attend an event with the candidates

Hold a hustings event – have a ‘question the candidates’ session.  Certain rules apply to hustings events which you’ll need to consider carefully as you organise your event.

Because of the rules about campaigning for elections, it is important that your hustings do not favour any political party. The simplest way to do this is to invite all the candidates standing for election in your area.

If you don’t want to invite all the candidates in your area, for example because there are a large number of candidates, you need to be able to give objective reasons why you have not invited particular candidates to show your event is not promoting a particular party.

Impartial reasons may emerge from the following considerations:

  • local prominence of some parties or candidates over others
  • the number of elected representatives at the local or national level
  • recent election results in the area
  • resources and other practicalities constraining numbers of invitees
  • security concerns

Impartial reasons do not include reasons such as your views on the policies of a candidate or party.

Before organising a hustings, you should read the Electoral Commission guidance.

You can also:

  • go along to hustings organised by other organisations and ask questions about carers
  • look out for online chats with candidates
  • look out for advertisements for where local candidates will be and ask them questions

Where to find out about your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

These are people who register to become candidates for election. If your current MP is seeking re-election they will also become a prospective parliamentary candidate as soon as the election is called.

Unfortunately there is no easy way to find out which are your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates. Your local elections office may be able to provide you with information on who is standing for election in your area and you can find their details on the About my vote website. Alternatively, you can either look up and contact your local party office or any of the national party offices. The national political party sites will have lists of currently selected candidates.  Not all political parties select a candidate (or have selected a candidate) for every constituency.

 What other opportunities are there to raise issues?

Carers UK wants carers’ voices to be heard at every level in every debate so that all Prospective Parliamentary Candidates are left in no doubt that carers need better support – both financial and practical.

Every election campaign involves the media and there are chances for you to comment, as many of our members have done so far:  

  • local and national phone-ins – on the radio or TV
  • local newspaper coverage – adding comments to stories
  • local community discussion boards
  • Facebook and Twitter accounts of candidates
  • leaving comments in response to blogs and opinion pieces
  • spreading messages through Facebook, Twitter etc.

After the election

Many local organisations have good relationships with their local MPs. Members of Parliament in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Carers advised that 'it is important for local constituents to tell their MP about local concerns. If you want carers’ issues to be raised in Parliament, you must raise them with your local MP.'

They also advised 'once the election is over, we would advise contacting your local MP with your concerns that you need tackled locally, but also nationally. But make sure you keep your demands brief, focused and achievable – if your MP is new, they will have hundreds of issues they will have to learn about.'

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