I first met with my MP, Guto Bebb, around 18 months ago, not long after I moved into the Conwy area. Our first meeting went much better than I expected. Before the meeting Mr Bebb told me that he was happy to meet although he didn’t consider himself an expert on climate change so he wasn’t sure how he could help. However on leaving the meeting, I was inspired by Mr Bebb’s knowledge of issues related to climate change in North Wales, including renewable energy and flooding and came away from this meeting feeling extremely positive. From then on, I kept in contact and Mr Bebb even put me in touch with his researcher, Hattie, in Parliament after I told him how interested I was in a career in research. Before meeting with Hattie I didn’t have much knowledge of the role of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) and how there was specific climate change and related groups. Thanks to Hattie explaining all about APPGs, we then went on to use this knowledge at Hope for the Future, to help in our work. This was a really great outcome of my first meeting with Mr Bebb.
With the feeling that I now had a good relationship with my MP, I considered asking if Mr Bebb would attend a workshop on climate change in Aberconwy School in my constituency. These workshops are run by Hope for the Future in association with Scurrah Wainwright and provide secondary school students the opportunity to learn more about working with their MP, how Parliament works and present a ‘campaign’ of their choice to their local MP. Mr Bebb joined after the students had prepared their really creative campaigns, on fuel poverty, renewable energy, Eco Schools and air pollution. The students presenting their ideas to their MP was a really great way to open up the discussion on a variety of issues that I’m not sure Mr Bebb would have thought we would be discussing in a workshop on ‘climate change.’
Following this, Mr Bebb was really engaging in a question and answer session. He talked about issues such as recycling, on which Wales is a leader in the UK, and also fuel poverty which is a big issue in the Aberconwy constituency. Mr Bebb’s understanding of opportunities for renewable energy really shone, and he even told us that before becoming an MP he pushed for a smaller version of Electric Mountain- a hydroelectric power station in North Wales.
The students asked some really thought provoking questions. Not only did they get a lot out of the opportunity to discuss such an important issues with their MP, but Guto also said that he was inspired to hear the passion on these issues from the students. Mr Bebb also gave the students some advice for approaching their MP on climate change and related issues:
'Now is a really important time for young people to engage in politics. If you care about climate change and the environment you have the opportunity to present your views in shaping environment policy after Brexit.'
For anyone worried about meeting their MP on climate change, I would 100% recommend that you give it a go. There is almost always something that you and your MP can find common ground in. For myself and my MP, it was renewable energy; before our meeting I didn’t know that Mr Bebb was an advocate for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. From initially being worried about approaching my MP on an issue such as climate change, to Mr Bebb attending a workshop at the local school on the issue, I feel that building a good relationship with your MP goes a long way.
For more information on our workshops, see our schools page here. If you know of a school or an MP who would benefit from being involved with this project please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.