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.