Hope for the Future volunteer breaks the ice with Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Hope for the Future's Remote Support Assistant Volunteer, Marie Flanaghan, writes about her first MP meeting with Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy following training from Hope for the Future.

As a Hope for the Future volunteer, I provide constituents with information, training, and knowledge about how to meet their MP. Before joining HFTF, I have had little experience with my own MP. So, shortly after I began my role here and after undergoing HFTF training, I grabbed the opportunity to assist with and attend a meeting with Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Rebecca Long-Bailey. The training I have received with HFTF made me confident that, working with the constituents, I could help to conduct a helpful and productive meeting.

From left to right: Ruth Platt, Marie Flanaghan, Sandra Dutson, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP and Friends of the Earth representative, Ali Abbas.

From left to right: Ruth Platt, Marie Flanaghan, Sandra Dutson, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP and Friends of the Earth representative, Ali Abbas.

Rebecca, the MP for Salford and Eccles, has previously expressed interest in various aspects of policy dealing with and affecting climate change. Visiting the world’s first tidal power plant in Swansea a few months ago, she expressed the need for urgency in the government’s support for such pioneering enterprises. She has likewise spoken up about fuel poverty – an issue which affects her constituency disproportionately – and the urgent need to address it.

Going to meet with her, then, I was hopeful and optimistic. A seemingly nice meeting for me to cut my teeth on! I met Rebecca with two constituents and a Friends of the Earth representative. She took 30 minutes out of her busy schedule – and on a Friday at 5pm! – to chat with us.

The meeting was an incredibly engaging and encouraging one, in which we were all in agreement on the detrimental effects of climate change and the need to pursue further action as a country. We talked about a number of issues, from fracking to green spaces and all the while Rebecca took notes. Such engagement is certainly promising!

One issue Rebecca was particularly passionate about during the meeting was electric vehicles. She believes that the UK has an opportunity to lead the way in replacing polluting petrol vehicles with clean, electric vehicles. I thought it was inspiring that she sees the opportunity and promise in such a move, rather than predicting risks and approaching the situation with fear. Rebecca spoke about the pressing need to set an end-date for petrol cars, something which has since been announced.

I thought it was inspiring that she sees the opportunity and promise in such a move, rather than predicting risks and approaching the situation with fear.

Rebecca was also interested in promoting community self-sufficiency, believing that this is the way forward for the UK. For her, the goal is to promote such self-sustainability within 30 years. In order to do so, she spoke about the need to educate on climate change, allowing people to make the connection between themselves and the larger issue of climate change. As part of this promotion of clean, sustainable energy, she made a commitment to meet with Community Energy England to discuss matters further.

Rebecca’s manner of focusing on the opportunities which the issue of climate change brings – particularly in terms of the advancements within the realm of electric vehicles and renewable energy – is so encouraging. Such a positive understanding and approach will allow us to march forward not with fear but with promise.

While every MP may not be as receptive as Rebecca, I look forward to utilising the techniques I have learnt in HFTF to empower myself and constituents alike to work towards future productive meetings.