Meeting your election candidates to demand warm homes

With the general election called, we need to secure active and vocal support from candidates. Build a 2-way relationship and demand action by meeting with them.

30 May 2024

The upcoming general election

The general election will take place on 4 July, and as it gets closer parliamentary candidates are keen to lend an ear to their potential constituents. You decide whether to vote for them, so candidates want to know what matters to you, and how they can win your vote. 

In the run-up to the election, the UK political context is changing rapidly. By meeting with your candidates now, you can help to influence the policies their political parties will prioritise. Candidates will be regularly reporting back to their parties to tell them what issues are coming up locally and where they need strong policies in order to win.

Getting to know candidates now is also a great opportunity to start building a relationship with them. This will serve you in good stead if they win and become your local MP, and help to keep your campaign on their radar once they’re in parliament.

The current political context

So far, the major political parties have been taking heed of our demands, but not going far enough. The Labour Party had previously put housing retrofit centre stage of its agenda, promising to invest £6 billion a year on a home insulation programme over a decade. However, that has now been downgraded to just £13.2 billion over 5 years. The Conservatives have also talked of the need for more insulation in the context of high energy costs, although they’ve only pledged an additional £2 billion a year between 2025 and 2028. Renewable energy is also now recognised as green, clean and cheap by all parties.

But it’s still not enough. To meet the challenges of the energy and climate crises, we need candidates across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to pledge their support for the United for Warm Homes campaign. That’s why it’s so important to meet with your local parliamentary candidates ahead of the general election.

Securing a meeting

It's best to work with others to secure a meeting with your election candidates. At a local level, this could include council officers, your candidate's staff, other community groups, organisations and businesses.

Why? Because the more diverse and representative the people and groups you collaborate with are, the more likely your candidates will be to listen, and the more successful you’ll be.

All local parliamentary candidates have now been announced. You can find them using online directories such as this tool from the BBC.

Don't worry if you don't manage to secure a meeting with your candidates right away. These things can take time. If you don't get a response from them, then have a think about other ways you can catch their attention, such as through social media or by sending postcards from your community. You could also think about which community groups your candidates may be most likely to listen to, such as tenants associations or local businesses, and build up relationships with them first. If you do get a meeting with any of your local candidates, make sure to let the other candidates know. This can be a great way to build the pressure on them to meet with you too.

Before the election you might also want to organise a hustings, a kind of panel discussion for your local parliamentary candidates. This is a great opportunity to ask candidates questions about their party’s policies and what they’d do if they became your local MP. Read our guide to organising a United for Warm Homes hustings.

Preparing for the meeting

Do your research

Learn more about your candidates, and consider how best to lobby them:

  • Where do they stand on our campaign’s issues?
  • What can they do?
  • What are they realistically going to do?
  • What might stop them?
  • Can other people or groups help persuade them?

It might be harder to find information about election candidates than it is for former MPs, but have a look in the local press and on their website or social media to find out more about their positions on different issues.

Preparing as a group

Candidates will prioritise meeting with people from the constituency they're standing in, so make sure a group of you go along to the meeting, with at least one person from their area. They’re also more likely to listen if you demonstrate widespread support from across the community, which is why strength in numbers, both from your own group and local partners, is so important. 

  • Encourage as many people as possible to attend. 
  • Get together beforehand and agree on who’ll say what. 
  • Decide who’ll play specific roles. It can be helpful to agree on a meeting chair who’ll lead the discussion and keep things on time. They might step in if the conversation goes off-topic or gets a little too heated. It’s also a good idea to have one person making notes on the conversation. 
  • Show a united front, as disagreeing with each other can take away from the message.
  • Ensure your attendees are as representative as possible. Think about whether you’re representing the diversity of your local community in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and religion. Remember, even if not everyone can make the meeting, lots of people can get involved via social media, by tweeting or emailing the candidate while others are in the meeting. 

Top preparation tips 

  • Be clear on what you want to get out of the meeting. Our main goal is to get candidates to sign the United for Warm Homes pledge. We can then hold them to account on their commitments after the general election. Find out more about the pledge, including what it says and how they can sign. Even if they won’t sign the pledge, it’s still important to meet with local candidates to ensure they know this campaign matters to their potential constituents and to ask them what else they’ll do to provide warm homes for all. Meeting them now is also important for building your relationship them, which you can pick up after the election if they win. Read our top tips for what to do if your candidate won’t sign the pledge.
  • Focus on up to 3 key messages, as meetings are normally quite short. Use local facts and statistics to back up your points. These can be found on our energy crisis hotspots map. Just put in your postcode to find data about the energy crisis for your constituency.
  • Write a script in advance. See “What to say in the meeting” below for ideas on what to cover. 
  • Don’t worry about not being an expert. You have a right to get your points across. Plus, you’ll often know far more than the person you're lobbying.

What to say in the meeting

Here’s a suggested structure to follow in your meeting. 

  1. Introduce yourselves. Say who you are and where you live.
  2. Explain the problem and your concerns. Educate them about the issue. Talk about fuel poverty and the energy crisis in your area, and the impacts of the wider cost-of-living crisis.
  3. Share personal stories about the need for warm homes. If you’ve been collecting postcards in your community, you might want to bring some of these along with you.
  4. Outline the solutions and your asks. Be specific and talk about the 3 campaign demands. Give them a reason to act. What’s in it for them if they do? What will the impacts be if they don’t? Take along any documents you'd like to hand over about the campaign asks and local data, such as our campaign briefing for your constituency
  5. Allow some time for discussion. But keep to your agenda, don’t let them talk around the issue while saying nothing.
  6. Seek commitments from your candidates. Ask them to show their support by signing the United for Warm Homes pledge. If they sign the pledge, you might also want to ask them to share their support on social media. See our guide on winning political support for more ideas. If they won’t sign, ask them to show support for the campaign in other ways outlined in our guide, such as writing to their party leader or committing to meet with you again.
  7. Ask for a photo. Take a picture with your group and your local candidate if everyone is happy to. Order posters and placards to hold up in the photo. This always makes for a nice campaign image, and you can use it on social media or even on campaign materials. If your candidate signs the pledge, make sure to get a photo of them with our pledge placard. This will help you to hold them to their commitments in the future.
  8. Agree next steps. Take brief notes on the meeting, and keep a record of anything your candidates agree to.

Remember, the way you present your message is almost as important as what you’re saying. Think about your body language and your tone. Be confident, but stay calm and respectful.

What to do after the meeting

  • Get in touch to thank your candidates for seeing you.
  • If there were any next steps agreed, such as them officially signing the pledge online, write an email to remind everyone what they were.
  • Get in touch with the local newspaper, TV or radio station to see if they're interested in this as a story. If your candidates have agreed or refused to do something, this may be a good hook. See our guide on getting in the local media.
  • Get in touch with the other candidates in your area to let them know what's been committed to. Hearing about other candidates’ commitments will help build pressure and encourage them to do the same.
  • Post about the meeting on social media. Include your photo if you took one and use the campaign hashtag #UnitedforWarmHomes.
  • Keep up the conversation. Let your candidates know the latest developments in your campaign and invite them to keep showing their support.
  • If you don't get the response you want, be persistent. Encourage others to organise face-to-face meetings as well.

To find out more about how and why we want to influence general election candidates, read our political strategy.