A newbie’s guide to getting active

In today’s piece, Lydia Snodin continues her ‘How to’ series with a how to guide to getting active in the Labour Party.

You know when your life changes overnight?

Well in November 2015, I moved my Labour Party membership from Brighton Pavilion CLP to Ealing Central and Acton CLP.

Phew, it feels good to say it out loud.

I’ve been a Labour activist for over three years in two constituencies. In that time there have always been too few young people going to along to meetings, canvassing sessions and taking on local roles.

This month’s blog is some advice from one young person to another on how to make the leap from passion to action – how to get involved in your local Labour Party:

1. Volunteering doesn’t have to be completely selfless

Local parties vary, but in general they don’t have fantastically developed systems to filter people by talents and skils into roles. Mull over what you know as well as what you have yet to learn.

Local organisers, the party employees who run the campaigns and canvassing, are key contacts for this. It is okay to be selfish with how you want to spend you time volunteering. In fact, I’d say you’ll enjoy it more AND be more likely to continue in the longer term which is better for everyone

In the words of parks and rec:

treat yo’self

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[parks and rec pic: credit: http://hellogiggles.com)

2. The local Labour Party is your oyster…

Here comes the fun part – *hehem* I mean obviously it’s all super fun – but especially enjoyable is seeing what the local party has to offer. Check out the events listed on the CLPs website, they might email you updates or even just contact them asking what’s coming up.

There’ll be some social stuff, canvassing (speaking to voters in person and on the phone) and lots of meetings – the Labour party knows how to run a damn fine meeting.

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A very early canvassing session, one of my first, in late 2013 with activists in Brighton

3. Door knocking: it is better than it sounds, promise!

Okay, once a dog chased me through someone’s garden. It was totally fine though, the owner came out of the house and calmed them down – IT WAS FINE.

*composes self*

After saying  you should treat local events like a political pick n mix (the best kind), I’m going to have to insist you do one thing: door knocking.

Door knocking sessions are teams of brave activists venturing out in wind, rain and occasionally sunshine to speak to the guys who elect us: voters. I’ve written a fuller explanation of why and how we do this ‘on my personal blog’.

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A world exclusive look at my door knocking kit: a bag with many compartments, an umbrella and a tiny notebook- I know I’m too cool, don’t worry.

I’ve done virtually every campaign activity from the most basic counting out leaflets to running a campaign weekend with 20 young people, three door knocking sessions and pizza on the beach. You don’t realise until you order Dominos to come to Brighton beach that ‘deliver it to the beach’ is too vague.

I always come back to door knocking. Speaking to voters in person, chatting to other activists and maybe best of all, the post-canvass pub trip are what makes the Labour party the one for me. It never fails to remind me why I insist on dragging myself out of bed on Sunday mornings to ring the bell of a stranger’s front door.

4. Quick one – always wear comfortable shoes canvassing, both you and your feet will thank me later.

If you’re so inspired you can’t wait a second to get those walking boots and pound the streets, ‘find Labour party events near you right now’

Lydia X

Lydia Snodin
Lydia Snodin

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