Enough food IF: a visit to my MP
Written by Jamie Chalmers (aka Mr X Stitch), the kingpin of contemporary cross stitch and embroidery, an internationally exhibited artist, and the curator of PUSH Stitchery. Jamie recently visited Indonesia to see our nutrition work.
On Saturday, my journey with the #imapiece project stepped up a notch as I met with my MP, Mark Lancaster.
My aspiration for the meeting was to teach him some cross stitch, give him my jigsaw piece and ask him to ensure that the government commit to spending 0.7% of national income on international aid.
Having visited Indonesia and seeing how Save the Children use this aid money to make a profound difference in rural communities, I was steadfast in my determination to get his commitment.
As the date of the meeting drew closer, I became increasingly wracked with thoughts about what could happen.
Would I have the nerve to look him in the eye and ask for a commitment? Would I even remember what I was talking about?
I got some wise words from one of the Save the Children team who reminded me that MPs are our elected representatives, and as such they have a duty to respond to our enquiries and requests.
I took this as a personal mantra and it helped me feel confident in what I was about to do.
The big day
The day of the meeting arrived and it all went rather well. I managed to get Mark Lancaster stitching and used that time to talk over the international aid question.
He knew his stuff on this issue and confirmed that the UK government was committed to the 0.7%, however there was a slight philosophical change in their approach.
After we’d had a chat, I gave Mark his jigsaw piece and he seemed genuinely moved.
It was an interesting experience and I’m glad I did it. Mark is a human being, and he was genuinely interested in the campaign and happy to talk with the people in the room.
Create a photo opportunity
I think the handmade jigsaw piece affected him more profoundly than he first expected once he’d realised that I’d spent about eight hours making it, and he did say he’d get it framed.
It made for a great photo opportunity and so I’m hoping one of the pics will get into the paper to raise further awareness.
The main thing I learned was that MPs are there to represent us and that it’s OK to ask them to do things.
They may not have all the answers, and they may not give you answers you want to hear, but with something as simple as a handmade jigsaw piece, you can show them that you’re appreciative of their efforts and would like them to continue doing the right thing for the greater good.
It’s over to you
If you’ve been making jigsaw pieces, then you might have one ready to give to your MP.
Don’t be afraid at this point. Contact their office and make an appointment to see them.
It doesn’t have to involve other people and the local paper, although it’s a bonus if it does.
By giving a gift to your MP, you’ll connect with them in ways they weren’t expecting, and you might just start a dialogue that makes a difference.
I know that I can contact my MP with more confidence now, and that I can ask him to do more, without fearing the consequences. And that, my friends, is a pretty cool thing to know.