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How to talk to parliamentarians

Arguments for universal free school meals are at their heart an argument for an investment in the future of our children — and the United Kingdom as a whole.

How to talk to parliamentarians

It’s clear that children that have been fed properly will do better at school. Hungry children cannot learn. They cannot focus on their lessons, they won’t take in what they are being taught, and so their longer term outcomes as individuals (and for the UK as a society) won’t be as good. And yet the conversation about properly fed school children in the UK is stuck, stymied by partisanship.

This is, in part, because of the framing of the issue. That’s in our control to change, and we found a way to do it in our work for Sustain. Through a series of in-depth interviews, we spoke to members of three political parties, senior civil servants, and former special advisors. We discovered what the different perspectives had in common, and what limits exist to their cooperation.

We suggested pragmatic ways to frame the issue, that would allow politicians with different ideological perspectives to engage with the policy area constructively. Our recommendations to Sustain included how to frame the debate (especially parliamentary engagements), messaging and messengers, and what detailed policy work needed to be done to enhance the proposal.

Working with Cast from Clay on our school food political research was incredibly insightful. They were able to create a ‘safe space’ away from the lobby hall for parliamentarians and civil servants to talk more frankly about engaging with this topic and what would help build a more constructive dialogue. The team brought a valuable mix of political and communications expertise to the project, and helped facilitate important reflections on strategy that we’ll be integrating into our future campaigning.

Barbara Crowther Campaign Co-ordinator

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