The House of Commons returns from Summer Recess on Tuesday, 1st September 2020.
The Palace of Westminster remains subject to health-based restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, these apply to people who are not present on the estate as elected parliamentarians, appointed peers or in other paid roles and current pass holders.
However, MPs will all be expected to return to the House as per usual. It is expected that restrictions on surgery appointments in constituencies will be maintained, at least for the time being, with local lockdowns and potential ‘Wave Two’ national outbreaks of Covid-19 always a distinct possibility.
Therefore, MPs will continue to expect their constituents to make contact with them via letter and email. They will be responding to these queries with their usual professional efficiency (indeed, I have encountered no ‘slackening off’ in service from any MP since pandemic conditions appertained). It is therefore important that you continue to contact your MP by letter or email with regard to our immediate Child Mental Health Charter Campaign objectives.
Our dedicated Child Mental Health Charter Campaign site is the first place to look in order to update yourselves about the campaign. Here you will see that we have set our immediate objectives and these should be the sole focus of any/all contact that you have with MPs at this time. The objectives are:
- That the MP agrees to sign our new EDM 685 ( you can read the text on the site: www.childmentalhealthcharter.com)
- That the Government fulfils its commitment (given in the 2019 Queen’s Speech) to introduce new mental health legislation during the course of this parliament
- That such legislation should have the needs of children at its heart as a non-negotiable prerequisite.
You should ensure that your letter/email directly asks the MP if they will commit to these three objectives and makes representation to the Government to ensure that the legislation is introduced as promised.
All letters should adhere to the above three objectives and concentrate on them exclusively. A familiar tactic of MPs who do not wish to ‘upset’ a potential voter (but who have absolutely NO INTENTION of supporting our aims) has been to attempt to ‘distract’ the constituent by asking them to expand on the intricacies of their own play therapy practice and local provision. If the MP is genuinely interested they would be supporting the aims as set out. Do not be sidetracked however tempting!
This is a crucial time for the campaign.
Children are returning to school and it is widely predicted that the existing national crisis in their mental health may well have worsened out of all proportion due to the pandemic and especially conditions of lockdown when some children may have been deprived of ongoing treatment and others may have developed an adverse mental health condition as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 emergency situation.
It would be of immense benefit to my work if you could contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org with any examples that you can share. When making a case to Government Ministers, it strengthens the argument if I can support it with ‘real life’ examples. I will be, of course, assiduous in protecting the anonymity of children/families, professionals/schools/practices – unless told that this is not required.
I am also always grateful for people who are willing to go ‘on the record’ about their experiences as this adds to the credibility and authenticity of my approach.
It would also help the campaign if you could encourage interested individuals and organisations that you know to be sympathetic to sign the Child Mental Health Charter. Details of how to do this as an individual or an organisation can be found on the site. Again, please let me know what success you have with attracting and convincing new signatories.
Finally, please inform me about the outcome of all and any approaches that you make to your MP – whether these are positive or negative. Send this information to me direct at the email address supplied above. Also, please use that address to request any help that you may need in contacting your MP. If you would like my advice about the proposed text that you are considering sending, I am happy to help – although I do not as a rule supply ‘model template texts.’ MPs readily dismiss an orchestrated campaign (they get so much correspondence anyway and it is a way of weeding it out) and are more impressed with people who write a personalised letter.
As always, The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign is very grateful in anticipation of everything and anything that you do to advance this essential work on behalf of children, their parents or carers and those who work professionally for and with them in the best interests of their mental health and wellbeing.
Helen Clark: Campaign Manager, Child Mental Health Charter Campaign