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Tips for hosting candidates at Christian Aid Week events

With a UK general election on the horizon, Christian Aid Week is a great opportunity to start building a relationship with the people hoping to represent you in the next UK Parliament – and to show them your community wants them to act on poverty.

Candidates may be willing to attend local events to hear what their communities care about.

Make the most of this by inviting them along to your Christian Aid Week activity and asking them to act on poverty. 

Here are six steps to make the visit a success:

1) Stay neutral

Before you start planning your event, it's worth remembering that your church will be bound by charity law. Under charity law, churches can engage in political activity to influence politicians and campaign for policy change. However, the law requires churches to maintain - and be seen to maintain - political neutrality and independence at all times with regard to parties and candidates.

2) Check your constituency

The UK is split into 650 constituencies. Each constituency elects an MP to the UK Parliament. Ahead of the 2024 General Election, some constituency areas will change. Check your constituency.  

3) Find your candidates

Click "filters” on this page, (WhoCanIVoteFor), select your region then scroll down to see which candidates are standing in your constituency.

At this stage, it’s worth researching your candidates as both politicians and people. What have they been in the media for? What other events have they supported or attended? You don’t need to spend hours on this, but is there anything obvious from a quick Google search? 

4) Invite your candidates

To eliminate any possible concerns about your church’s political independence, invite candidates from at least the mainstream parties and make it clear that you have done so in any communications to candidates, church members or the public about the event.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind: 

  • Check the WhoCanIVoteFor website just before sending your invites as it’s regularly updated.
  • Give them as much advance notice as possible– we suggest at least one month. 
  • Include the date, time, and location of your event.
  • Briefly explain the event and what you are inviting the candidate to do.
  • You could give candidates the option to drop in at specific time slots.
  • If they accept, send them a reminder about the event a week before.  

If your candidates don’t respond within 2 weeks, it’s worth following up with them and trying again.  

5) Decide what you’d like candidates to do

Candidates will be more likely to attend an event if they know what is expected of them.

This could be as simple as inviting them to have a cup of coffee and speak to members of your church’s Christian Aid group following a Christian Aid Week service or attending a Christian Aid Week fundraiser. The key thing will be to ensure there’s space to talk to them and impress on them how much your church cares about action on poverty.

Top tip - if you are inviting more than one candidate, you may want to invite them to attend at different time slots, for example, one hour of a coffee morning.

6) Make an impression

As you plan your Christian Aid Week activities, think about how you could make a lasting impression on the candidates.

What's the most exciting part of Christian Aid Week in your community? What could make the visit memorable and make your candidates want to follow up if they are elected?

This is also a chance for your whole church to get involved.

You could make and hang an Act on Poverty banner. Or you could knit, craft or bake something that the candidates can keep and display (or eat!) in their campaign office. See our Craftivism Guide for more ideas.

Need more help - contact us

Remember the main thing is show your church cares about action on poverty. Good luck!

If you any questions, please email us at campaigns@christian-aid.org