Ed Davey converts party campaigning into community helping

Ed Davey, our Co-Leader, has written tonight to members asking them to convert their campaigning zeal towards helping their local community in this time of crisis:

We can all make a difference – each and every one of us.

One of the many things that unites Liberal Democrats is our campaigning zeal for our communities. Our drive to change things for the better. A way of working that engages local people in our campaigns.

Today, I’m asking you to turn your campaigning zeal wholeheartedly towards helping your community during this Coronavirus crisis.

To help you, we’re issuing new guidance to party members – you can find it here: www.libdems.org.uk/covid19. And we will be collecting and sharing best practice over the next few days and weeks about how our community politics can best help.

In short – I’m asking Lib Dem teams all across the UK to make community activism helping vulnerable people during this crisis our campaigning priority.

We’re a party that cares about people, cares about communities and cares about the most vulnerable. I’m proud of this party, and I’m sure we will all rise to this national challenge.

Whatever happens, we can make a difference.

Here is the full advice for members:

Our latest advice on the COVID-19 virus

This page will contain the Liberal Democrats current advice about campaigning and party activities in the light of the Coronavirus outbreak.

This may alter if Government and professional guidance changes, at which point we will update this page.

This page was last updated: 2000, 16th March 2020

Where can I find the latest medical advice?
The latest medical advice is available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Community Activism to Combat the Coronavirus
How can I best help my community?

Our priority as a party is supporting communities through this crisis. The Liberal Democrats are asking our members and supporters to focus their efforts on helping communities deal with the impact of COVID19.

Unless there is a specific exceptional circumstance (for example, an upcoming by-election that has not been suspended), our focus should be on:

Leading community efforts to identify and support vulnerable people, enabling people to volunteer to help others, and publicising appropriate advice and resources;
Keeping people informed about how they can help their community, their friends, family and neighbours in the coming weeks; and
Elected representatives using their roles to help ensure relevant public bodies are making adequate preparations to support their communities.
What does this mean in practice?

Conventional door-to-door activity is suspended until further notice, unless there are very specific temporary local circumstances (e.g. a Lib Dem councillor calling at the home of a resident in need of help with urgent non-coronavirus related casework or informing people about polling day for a by-election that hasn’t been cancelled).

In addition, to support sensible community activism, some door-to-door contact with residents may be appropriate, especially in support of the effort to identify and support vulnerable people, or to get food and medical supplies to people in isolation.

Please take all appropriate medical advice seriously before calling on anyone and look to emulate best practice, such as from online supermarket delivery services.

In particular:

Hygiene – washing our hands more regularly soap and water for 20 seconds, including before and after any door to door activity. You may want to take hand sanitiser (at least 60% alcohol content) out with you.
Social distancing – including not shaking hands with residents or colleagues, not entering people’s houses unless it’s an emergency and where possible arranging meeting points outside.
We are recommending that in the short-term local parties (with respect for the TPS and GDPR requirements) focus voter contact efforts on the telephone. Attempt to contact known older and single-person households people as a priority to identify any potentially vulnerable people who may be in need of assistance. A template script for this will be made available in Connect.

Our community FOCUS newsletters, and mailshots from elected representatives and campaigners, are established and trusted sources of information in many parts of the UK. We should be proactively using these to communicate how to access the latest advice and support and offering people the opportunity to engage with us to ask for or offer help.

Please avoid giving any advice that could be time-limited in print as it is currently changing very rapidly. Signposting to trusted official advice sources is the objective.

Please continue to use the party branding where it is part of your established communications but consider the tone and style of your communications carefully. We want to avoid any overly political content that, whilst appropriate normally, could be unhelpful in these circumstances.

We are happy for people to complete the distribution of any materials already in print – there is no need to pulp or recall existing stock.

We also recognise that there will be relevant local issues besides COVID19 that will merit engagement and response and we want local Lib Dem teams to continue to be responsive to genuine local issues and concerns, within the framework set out above.

We are making templates available to enable people to do all of this via the party’s Google Drive and ALDC, and would ask you to use these wherever possible.

If you have any doubt about the appropriateness of any material LDHQ staff will be happy to check if for you. Please contact [email protected], providing 24 hours notice for a response.

Members may have concerns about transmitting the virus via paper. Current health advice is that delivering items to people’s letterboxes is ok, as set out in the Royal Mail’s statement on their continuing to deliver the post: https://www.royalmail.com/coronavirus

In many parts of the country we have substantive email lists and social media audiences. We should use these regularly to circulate any updates to official advice in addition to our usual business and information about local support and volunteering related to coronavirus.

There is – as always – a lot of misinformation as well as useful advice circulating on the internet. We need to be scrupulously careful to only circulate official advice and links to local community involvement.

We are now suggesting that party meetings be moved to online meetings wherever possible. Please avoid face-to-face meetings unless there is an urgent and essential need to do so.

At all times, measures should be put in place to enable those self-isolating to participate. An online video conferencing tool like Zoom is free for small-scale use.

If you need any help with moving party activities over to online channels or have good practice to share, please make use of the Lib Dem Digital Campaigning Forum on Facebook.

As the COVID19 situation escalates, it is understandable that many people including our own members and supporters will be concerned. Communicating regularly with them about what’s going on is more important now than ever.

Please share the advice on this page to our activists and to our delivery network volunteers. Reassure them that we are monitoring the situation and we will stop types of campaigning should the guidance say that we should.

Please point people to this page so that as and when this advice is updated, they will always see the latest information.

Above all, our members should, at all times, respect the medical advice given by the NHS (see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/).

Nobody should participate in person in party activities if they feel unwell or have good reason to self-isolate.

Helping the party whilst self-isolating

We understand that many people will want to focus on looking after themselves and family whilst self-isolating. For others, including many for whom campaigning with us is one of their primary opportunities for social contact in ordinary times, it could be a lonely experience.

There are many things that individuals can continue to do to support party activities whilst self-isolating, e.g. communicating online about our efforts to help communities at this time, participating in training or webinar workshops, or home-based database work. We will be developing a programme of this and will add further information to this page in the coming days.

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Mar '20 - 10:58pm

    Fine effort and tone from our leader and team, we can and must provide a non party kind of opinion in our discourse, and non political attitude in our efforts.

    Real leader in action, this, from Ed!

  • Just to throw this out there:

    I’ve seen Labour and Greens calling for similar things. Perhaps Tories are too – the fact I’ve not seen it could be more of a reflection on my social groups than anything else.

    Why not try to formally co-ordinate something cross party?

  • May I suggest Ed does his bit by holding the clown show led by Depeffle to account. Also ask the bloody awkward question not the the ” nice” one’s. Asking the nice one’s helped the “take it on the chin Hurd immunity disaster” to waste precious days and if that kills me I’ll be very, very annoyed and won’t be renewing my membership.

  • Rodney Watts 17th Mar '20 - 7:42am

    @ Lorenzo Agreed! Gateshead LibDems had already sent out a letter to members in the above vein. Well done to Cllr Jonathan Wallace (Leader of opposition) and Cllr Vicky Anderson. I’m usually down the Barley Mow Community Centre on a Tues morning at a table top sale, but am self isolating, but will miss the banter.

  • A good idea for the LibDem’s though perhaps at odds with the social distance mandate, the rough sleepers seem to have disappeared from my area, BTW.

    Also had the thought that maybe the retirement age should be reduced to 60 as there is going to be a lot of wreckage in the system, if it is reduced then the 35 years NI to get a full pension should be reduced back to the original 25 years or less. It will cost the govn serious money but help their unemployed stats.

  • Yes, we’ll do our bit in caring for our local communities. Our council group takes that as read. We don’t need to be firing on all cylinders in terms of party political campaigning. But in any major emergency our priorities and values demand that we home in on issues of accountability and civil liberties – the necessary counterpart to unprecedented actions that may be required of government central and local.

  • I have a question for David on here, can’t remember his last name. The one who runs the food bank.
    I am really concerned about food banks and no longer being able to donate because i am now self-isolating.

    Whenever we went shopping we would always buy extra’s for the food bank trolly, we are no longer going to be able to do that as we will rely solely on online shopping.

    Do you know if there is a way of still donating to a food bank without going in-store?
    Are supermarkets online shopping being lobbied to provide an online facility to add a food bank donation to your order that can automatically be put aside for the foodbank.

    I am really worried about this and the detrimental effect on foodbanks and still want to be able to do our bit, but do not know how we go about it.
    I have searched and searched and cannot find anything locally for my area

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 17th Mar '20 - 9:48am

    Matt – I think you mean David Raw.
    David would be best able to answer, but I think food banks welcome donations of money as well as actual food items – you could contact your local food bank and ask about whether you can donate online.
    There will be some other issues affecting food banks and their users. What will happen if someone needs help from a food bank, but they are supposed to be self isolating? And many people who volunteer at food banks are elderly and may need to be self isolating.

  • Nonconformistradical 17th Mar '20 - 11:02am

    You can certainly donate online to the Trussell Trust

  • @ Matt Thanks for that, Matt. Good on you.

    Yes, until February, when I retired after four years, I was Chair of a Trussell Trust Foodbank in Scotland . Last year locally we helped nearly 6,000 people (mostly to do with Universal Credit) and raised over £ 60, 000. I’m now having to self isolate (seventy plus, compromised immune system after transplant nine years ago), but I’ve got a great successor.

    Checked by phone this morning with our Foodbank manager and things are ticking along nicely… lots of generous donations at the moment…… BUT….. things may dry up as the economy takes a knock (it’s happened at one Glasgow Foodbank). I anticipate increasing demand with possibly less ability to give support. I’m now (in isolation) looking at setting up a Just Giving Crowd Funding Site to help if things go downhill. I’ll keep you posted……

    Here’s a link to the Trussell Trust Website. They’ll advise on you local situation. I’m sure you’ll get a warm welcome.

    The Trussell Trust – Stop UK Hungerwww.trusselltrust.org

    “The Trussell Trust is working to stop UK hunger and poverty. Our network of foodbanks provides emergency food and support to people in crisis”.

  • People may also find this useful

    https://covidmutualaid.org/resources/ a guide to local organising to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Mar '20 - 12:22pm

    Great to hear from Matt, and David re: food banks. Government action to support them should be the solution, to then wipe them out by putting the money in the hands of those without!

  • What is happening about robust scrutiny of the emergency powers legislation?

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