Campaign toolkit

Together with single parents, we’ve created a campaign toolkit that gives you the advice and tips you need to create change. This toolkit will support you to campaign, whether that’s engaging with your  MP or using your voice online.

We continue to develop this toolkit and welcome your input. If you want to share any campaigning tips, advice or experiences that would help other single parents, please get in touch

Campaigning with confidence

Lisa’s Story

For some, campaigning can be hard, intimidating or even scary. Here are some tips from Lisa who, after ending an abusive relationship, got involved in campaigning as a way to take back control and move forward in her life.

“I’ve never been good at sticking up for myself…It was a theme that continued throughout my childhood and into adulthood; yet somehow becoming a parent suddenly changed me.”

I remember my parents visiting me when my daughter was very small and my dad said “You’ve become like a Rottweiler in a dress since you had that baby!” In some ways he was absolutely right, except it was her that I was sticking up for, not myself. I’m still not good at having the confidence to stand up and speak up for myself, but if it affects my child I’ll go to war. That’s why I get involved in Gingerbread’s campaigns. I want to address the social injustices that affect my daughter so that, should she ever find herself in a similar position to me, she doesn’t have to struggle.

That being said, I know that campaigning with confidence is not easy for every single parent. Many of us have found ourselves in abusive relationships that continue to affect us to this day. Be it physical, financial or emotional abuse, I know that it can be scary and potentially dangerous to campaign and put your name to something that could be seen by your ex. I know that I have my own issues that I can’t pursue publicly because of the fear of the consequences from my ex who still maintains a certain degree of emotional control.

With this in mind, I wanted to write some tips for others who may feel disenfranchised or fearful of getting involved in public campaigns. I want you to know that campaigning can be for everyone, not just life’s warriors. There are plenty of ways to get involved in a safe and effective way.

Tip 1: Sign petitions

There are a number of petition sites online. The UK government and parliament petition site is my favourite because the government has to provide a response or debate a topic once a petition has reached 100,000 signatures. It has a really good search function too so you can look for live petitions on your issue. Starting your own petition isn’t anonymous, but you can sign other petitions without your signature being visible to others. You just need to confirm you’ve signed via an email notification, which isn’t made public.

Tip 2: Write an anonymous blog

Campaigning helps me feel less hopeless when life is hard.”

Your MP can escalate issues on your behalf. Make sure you you have a look at the ‘Influencing the influencers’ section for further advice and information.

Tip 3: Sign up to Gingerbread’s campaigns

Sign up to their mailing list so that you can receive updates and find out ways you can get involved in Gingerbread’s campaigns.

Tip 4: Tweet

Using Twitter doesn’t require you to use your real name in the same way as other social media platforms. It’s also a perfect outlet for people who don’t have the time to write a blog but want to support campaigns. Use relevant hashtags so that people can see what you’re passionate about. Follow others who have similar aims and objectives to you. Again, you just need to be careful about promoting or using personal information that could make you identifiable.

Tip 5: Tell your story to the media

I strongly believe that everyone has the ability to do something, even if it feels scary. All parents advocate for their children, but single parents need to work doubly hard. It can be really tough.

If you feel you have a unique story to tell, then sharing it with the public through the media can help others to understand the issues that affect you. You can explain to journalists that you will only be involved if you can do so anonymously. And contact Gingerbread if you’d like to be involved in their media work.

How to write to your MP

Writing to your MP can be a great way for them to hear about your concerns and take steps to support you. You can find your newly elected MP and their contact details by typing your postcode into parliament’s website.

Take a look at single parent Cat’s tips on writing to your MP. If you’d like further support or want to share your campaigning experiences please get in touch.

Cat’s advice

Tip 1: Make it personal

MPs want to hear about what matters to you as their constituent and how their help can make a difference so make sure you include some detail about this in your letter.

MPs are often very busy and they only have a small team to help process their post and emails so sometimes it does take some time to receive a response. Usually they work Mon-Thurs in Westminster and then spend Fridays and the holidays in their constituency. So sometimes you might have to nudge them for a response.

Tip 2: Be persistent

It may take a short while for your MP to respond, but they should respond! And if you’re not happy with an initial result make sure you follow this up with them.

Tip 3: Explain what you want your MP to do

If you’re not sure how they could help you, just be honest and possibly suggest a meeting with them to talk through in more detail.

Tip 4: Include your postcode

It’s parliamentary protocol that MPs respond to constituents only so don’t forget to include this. Below is an example letter which you can use to write to your MP.



Dear <<MP name>>,

My name is << insert name here>> and I’m writing to you today about <<issue>>. As a single parent, this issue is extremely important to me because <<reasons/your experiences>>.

I would like you to <<clear actions points for the MP to take away with them and timeline on when you expect the issue to be resolved>>.

Please respond to my letter and outline the steps you intend to take to address my concerns. If applicable, please escalate my letter to the relevant parliamentarian or department and keep me informed of any progress.

I look forward to hearing your response in due course.

Yours sincerely,


<<Full address including postcode>>

Meeting your MP

Meeting your MP can be a great way to discuss your concerns, and work together to resolve issues affecting you and your family. You can find out who your elected MP is by typing in your postcode in parliament’s website.

Take a look at Cat’s tips on meeting with your MP. If you’d like further support or want to share your campaigning experiences, please get in touch.

Cat’s advice

One easy way for you to engage with your MP is to meet with them. You could ask to arrange a meeting with them in a letter or you can attend one of their drop-in surgeries. If you are a member of a local Gingerbread group this would be a fantastic opportunity for your MP to meet a group of single parents and discuss issues together. It would also be an excellent way for your MP to understand how widespread an issue may be.

Whether you’re involved in local politics or not, meeting with your MP is real opportunity to engage them with issues that matter to you. Most MPs hold regular surgeries in their constituency on Fridays. You can find out when you MP’s surgeries are by calling their office or looking on their website. You may need an appointment to meet with them, so be prepared to make one ahead of the day when they visit your area.

Tip 1: Prepare

Prior to your meeting you may find it useful to write down bullet points to take with you, so that you manage to say everything you intend to, including any questions you have for them and timelines for when things need to get done by – kind of like a wish list!

Tip 2: Know what outcome you want

I was really surprised how accessible and friendly my MP was when I met him. I was left feeling that he had taken me seriously and indeed, he followed up with a letter a couple of weeks later telling me exactly what he was doing to escalate my concern.

Whatever approach your MP takes, make sure you’re both clear on how your issue is going to be resolved. What action points can you both commit to? What timelines are realistic? It’s likely your issue won’t be resolved very quickly so it might be worth agreeing to meet in the near future to discuss progress.

Don’t forget, MPs love to hear how their work has helped you so if they have positively supported you in some way be sure to thank them for this.

Tip 3: Stand up for what you believe in

Good luck with however you communicate with your MP whether that’s tweeting them, writing to them, meeting them one-to-one or inviting them to your local Gingerbread group. Remember that you and your family matter and that sticking up for your rights is one of the most important thing you can do. Unless we fight for ourselves, it’s likely that nobody else will.

Your MP works for you

Your elected MP will act as your representative in parliament for the next five years (unless another general election is called before 2022). So it’s important you know who your MP is and how they could help you and your family.

Who is your MP?

MPs (Members of Parliament) are representatives of political parties who have been elected by people like you to represent the area in which they live – called a constituency. 650 MPs form the House of Commons. Whoever wins a majority of seats in the House of Commons is instructed by the Head of State (the Queen) to form a government. The Government’s leader is the Prime Minister.

If you’re not sure who your MP is then type your postcode into this tool to find out. You can also find out their email address and social media channels to connect them.

MPs vote in parliament on legislation that affects all our lives – from benefits to NHS funding. Type your postcode into this tool to find out how your MP has voted. If you live in Wales, you will also have an elected Assembly Member (AM) who represents you. Assembly Members are democratically elected members of the National Assembly of Wales. Their role is to represent Wales and its’ people, make laws for Wales and hold the Welsh government to account. Find out more about Assembly Members and the National Assembly of Wales. The advice provided below is also applicable for Assembly Members.

Why does this matter?

Your MP can help with a range of issues affecting you and your family. They might be able to write to your local council or raise an issue confidentially with a relevant government department. MPs can also raise awareness of the views, interests and concerns of their constituents’ in parliament. They can do this by, for example, asking questions at Prime Ministers Questions, writing letters to government ministers on behalf of their constituents and using their national profile to actively campaign.

MPs can also help by supporting local events, businesses or meetings – you just need to invite them and give them enough notice. Local media are often interested in MPs’ activities so if your MP is coming along to an event or meeting and you wanted to raise more awareness about it, don’t forget to contact your local paper to tell them.

Key issues for single parent families

Unfortunately, MPs cannot ‘fix’ problems, but sometimes they can help make the situation better. In most of the cases below, MPs are not responsible for the problem – however, a letter from them can often cut through the bureaucracy and make change happen. Find out which issues your MP can help with.

How your MP can help you

If you’re having problems with benefits

Your MP can write to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on your behalf if your benefits have been miscalculated, or if you want to appeal a decision made. Similarly, if you’re confused about a decision, an MP’s caseworker can often talk you through what your options are, and sometimes point you in the direction of further assistance. MPs do not make decisions on benefits, but where a mistake has been made they can write to the relevant authorities on your behalf.

If you’re facing eviction or other housing problems

Lots of MPs are contacted by constituents who are facing housing problems. For instance, you might want to find out why you have been on a housing waiting list for such a long time, or what you can do if your landlord is increasing the rent or threatening eviction. In situations like these, an MP’s office can write on your behalf to the council or landlord, and can sometimes advise you regarding the process of eviction. Housing matters are dealt with by your local council, but your MP can help by representing you and talking to your council about your situation.

If you’re having problems with child maintenance

If you are having trouble securing timely and accurate child maintenance because of issues with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) or with the non-resident parent, your MP should be able to write to the relevant authorities on your behalf and support you with your case.

If you’re facing employment problems

Your MP should be able to support you by giving advice, or directing you to people who can give you advice, if you’re facing employments problems. If your terms and conditions change at work and you’re unhappy with how your employer is treating you, for example, your MP might be able to apply pressure to the employer to encourage them to reconsider their decisions – and some MPs have campaigned for organisations to reverse pay cuts and redundancies, at bigger organisations.

If you’re chasing documentation or a decision from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Home Office or another department

Your MP might be able to help follow these up for you, and potentially speed up a decision or outcome.

If you need help navigating the NHS

MPs can often write letters to relevant departments and authorities if you are facing difficulties with the NHS.

If you need legal support

While an MP cannot provide you with legal advice as their staff are not legally trained, they can often point you in the direction of free local provision, and some can refer you on to local providers.

If you are concerned about the schools in your area

Your MP might be able to talk these issues through with you, or appeal on the behalf of constituents where a school is being set up or being closed – although it’s worth bearing in mind that education comes under the remit of your local council.

If you are organising a community event or meeting

You can always write to your MP and ask them to come along to attend or meet with you. It’s important that your MP knows what is going on in their constituency, and they will usually try and come along if time allows.

If you want your MP to support a campaign

If you’re passionate about an issue that has affected your personally, your MP can help publicise this, and possibly help you to campaign on it. Perhaps they can speak up in parliament, or set up a meeting with the relevant minister. They might also be willing to table a debate in parliament on the issue, potentially getting national coverage.

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