If you would like to help out by taking information about benefit changes or copies of the petition out on your street, it can feel a bit intimidating. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
Why we’re doorknocking:
- We want to make sure that people, even those not affected by cuts, have information about them and understand the impact they could have in Brent
- We want to show people who are affected that there is support out there, and that there are ways to challenge the decisions made about their benefits and housing
- We want to get support from other people in Brent for our demands that Brent Council and Brent social landlords pledge not to evict, and to support tenants better
The practical stuff:
- Pick a small area, like a single side of a road, to start with – going door to door can be slow and tiring, especially if you get into conversations.
- Print out or get copies of BHA flyers (which give some basic information about welfare changes), the BHA petition and any other useful information to take around with you
- Note down where you go and get contact details where you can, especially if you find people who are interested in getting involved or need support (and get them to write in capital letters if you can…)
- Go out in twos, and not anywhere or at any time you feel unsafe – and take any safety precautions that you usually would when you are approaching people you don’t know
Starting the conversation:
- Start off with one quick sentence explaining who you are and why you’re there – and making it clear you’re not someone from the council or trying to sell them something! Something like ‘Hi, I’m here from Brent Housing Action, and we’re asking the council not to evict people hit by the current benefit cuts – do you know about them?’ or ‘Hi, I live down [this street] and I’m concerned that a lot of people around here are being affected by benefit cuts like the Bedroom Tax, so I’ve signed this petition to stop them being evicted – would you like some information?’ (These may be a little rubbish, but you get the idea…)
- The aim of the conversation is to find out what they know – i.e. ‘so have you heard of the Bedroom Tax, or the Benefit Cap?’ and if they haven’t giving them a bit of information – and once they’re clear what the cuts are, asking what they think about them and explaining why you think they are wrong.
- Hopefully you’ll have your own reasons to sum up, but you can find more statistics on this site and in the news which illustrate some of the big issues. Don’t rant for ages… just a little explanation like ‘I don’t think it’s fair that the majority of people who will be hit by these changes are already vulnerable – like single parents and the disabled – and that the benefit cap doesn’t take account of how high rents are in London. These changes are going to result in a lot of people being unable to live in the borough anymore – and I don’t agree that’s right.’
- Have a conversation! If people are interested, have a chat about the problems, and don’t be afraid to defend why you think the cuts are wrong to those who disagree – just don’t get into an argument with anyone; and answer their misconceptions with facts, not just empty statements.
- Make sure you offer them a chance to sign the petition, and explain what it asks for – and give them a leaflet before you go
- Don’t keep people too long, but if they are angry, worried, or just interested stay and share your thoughts with them. Its a great, informal way of passing on information, and finding out how people are being personally affected by the changes.
- If people are concerned, offer them support and point out our contact details and meeting dates on the flyer. If they want to get involved, you can give them spare copies of the petition to fill in and send back to us care of Brent Trades Hall (375 High Rd London, Greater London NW10 2JR) or posters and flyers to put up and give out. Invite them along to the next meeting too…
That’s pretty much it 🙂 If you want to arrange going out with others, you can also email us suggested areas and dates and we’ll try and come along 🙂