Friday, 17 February 2012

Writing to your MP for the first time

Anna from the Methodist Church's media team has written to her MP on the issue of a minimum price for alcohol. You can read her blog post below:

"As someone who works for the Church on media, I am often involved in campaigns with my fabulous colleagues in the Joint Public Issues Team. As part of this work, I often ask people to write to their MPs to support a particular campaign. But I have never done so my self - I have been a hypocrite.

I'm doing the same thing now - encouraging people to write to their MP about the Churches' Measure for Measure campaign, asking the Government to introduce a minimum unit price on all alcohol sold in England and Wales. As well as being something that affects my local community, policing and health services, alcohol misuse is has personally affected some of the people I love very dearly.

So I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth is and I wrote to my MP Tracey Crouch, expressing my concerns and asking her to support a per unit minimum price on alcohol.

Here's my email to her:

Dear Ms Crouch,

I write to you as a Medway resident concerned with how alcohol is affecting my community and local services. I note with concern that data from the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England) website shows that alcohol-attributable hospital admissions in Medway for both men and women are increasing year on year.

While alcohol policy is set nationally, it is in our local communities that the damage caused by alcohol misuse is felt most deeply, particularly disadvantaged communities, which continue to suffer disproportionately from alcohol-related harms.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Methodist Church and its partners in November 2011 found that 61% of UK adults felt that excessive drinking was a problem in their neighbourhood. You may have seen that there is increasing pressure from faith groups, charities and health bodies, who are calling on the Government to introduce a per unit minimum price on all alcohol sold in England and Wales. A study at Sheffield University found that over ten years, a 50p minimum price could save £1.37 billion in healthcare costs, £413 million in crime costs, £238 million due to workplace absence and £5.4 billion due to unemployment. For responsible drinkers like me this would mean paying only a few pence more per drink. The fantastic staff and services at Medway hospital are already overstretched – less spending on alcohol-related admissions and illnesses would free them up to improve and offer more services.

I am writing to ask you to support per unit minimum pricing and to encourage your fellow MPs to do likewise. The Scottish Parliament is currently discussing minimum unit pricing, and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are working towards a cross-border alcohol strategy including a minimum unit price. The success of the Government’s Alcohol Strategy relies on an appropriate UK-wide solution to pricing, namely per unit minimum pricing of between 40p and 50p. Medical and academic research suggests that other measures, such as the ban on below cost sales previously tabled by the Government, or tax raises, are unlikely to succeed.

I will be sharing this email publicly and will use it encourage others to also write to their MPs. With your permission, I would also like to publicly share your response to my email.

Many thanks for your time - I look forward to hearing from you,


And here's her thoughtful and timely response (apologies for small print size - click to read):

All in all, a very positive first experience of writing to my MP!

If you are concerned about alcohol misuse and how it is affecting your community and health service, please urgently email your MP, asking them to support a per unit minimum price. A briefing to help you is available here. "