Ally RoutledgeAlly Routledge, Public Affairs Officer at the National Housing Federation explains why you should invite your local MP to visit your scheme – and how.

This year, Starts at Home Day will be on 3 September 2021 and presents a great opportunity to reach out to your local MP. After a year where supported housing providers have played a vital role in the pandemic, it is important that MPs are able to hear first-hand about your experiences.

We are approaching 18 months after the election but the new intake of MPs are still getting to know the organisations in their constituency. In addition, after over a year of restrictions, this summer is a great opportunity to meet your MP in person and show them the brilliant work that supported housing does in their local area.

Why invite your MP to visit?

Polling by the NHF has shown that over half of MPs agree housing associations provide good value to constituents and that they make their constituencies a better place to live. This has been achieved by housing associations across the country building and maintaining strong relationships with their local representatives and showing their local MPs what they do every day. We also know that MPs who interact most with their local housing associations have much more positive feelings about them.

All MPs have a vote and a voice in parliament on the most important issues our country faces. Over the past year, supported housing providers have played a crucial role in protecting residents and ensuring that the NHS is not overwhelmed. You have an inspiring story to tell – Starts at Home Day is the time to tell it!

Surely some MPs more important than others?

You may be thinking, ‘my MP is just a backbencher who has no influence’. Some of the most important changes in housing law have been enacted from the backbenches of the Commons. Take the Homelessness Reduction Act. This came into law because a backbench MP introduced it as a Private Members Bill, a mechanism that is usually considered to be less influential. Through work with the sector, cross-party MPs and the government, we have come on leaps and bounds in homelessness legislation, which is benefitting rough sleepers every day. Even one MP can make a difference.

What support is there for me to invite my MP to visit?

So this Starts at Home Day, why not invite your local MP to come and see your supported housing scheme for themselves? We are providing template letters and guidance for inviting your MP and the Public Affairs team at the National Housing Federation are here to help you make sure your MP visit goes smoothly.

When is the best time for a visit?

To create the biggest splash on Starts at Home Day (Friday 3 September 2021), we need as many visits as possible to take place on or before that day so photos or videos from the visits can all be shared on social media on Starts at Home Day. But an MP visit is worthwhile at any time.

The role of housing associations and supported housing has never been more important – now it the time to engage with your local MPs to tell that story.

You can find our resources to help you organise an MP visit here.