Apart from voting them into power every few years and then moaning about them, the other thing we can do to politicians is lobby them. Lobbying is when you badger your MP into changing the law for you. They don't always listen, the blighters, so we’ve got some insider knowledge on how to make their ears prick up.

It's called 'Lobbying' because you stand in the lobby (hallway) at The Houses of Parliament and try to catch MPs when they're on their way out to lunch - a bit like the paparazzi - but rather than taking pics of them in their pyjamas, you talk to them about your cause or campaign instead.

At www.theyworkforyou.com you can find out everything that your local MP is up to, including their voting record, explore all of the different committees and groups, and track anything of interest to you that comes up in Parliament.

You can email MPs directly via www.writetothem.com or send a lovely letter to those MP's you have identified as being interested in your campaign. Much like Battlefront Campaigner Rachey Betty in her campaign for equal minimum wage.

You can find related campaigns and petitions here www.petitions.number10.gov.uk and get other people to pledge to support your campaign here.

Bibi Van Der Zee's chapter on lobbying from her book Rebel Rebel is absolutely brilliant, not least because she's letting you have it for free. We’ve made it available to download in full:

Lobbying does not have to be left to paid specialists: it's very simple and absolutely anyone with reasonably good manners can do it. You need to do four things:

Firstly, work out if going to the government is any use: do you really want to be approaching a corporation, perhaps, and tailoring your campaign accordingly?

Secondly, you need to start finding your way around. The House of Commons has 646 MPs, then there are the government departments, which are headed by the various ministers and staffed by civil servants: these departments are watched over by select committees. There are also public bill committees, and there are joint committees that work with the House of Lords. All of these provide points of entry for the resourceful lobbyist. There are similar chinks and opportunities to be found at the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament.

Thirdly, you need to figure out who will be interested in your issue. Find out who is on the committee for the department that would cover it, and also take a look at the all-party groups (in Scotland and Wales they’re referred to as cross-party group, in Northern Ireland all-party interest groups). These are clubs of parliamentary representatives who are interested in specific issues: You’ve got your names. Now make a nice neat list. Neat is important, because you’re going to be referring to this over and over again.

Fourthly, and most nerve-rackingly, start contacting them.

What is lobbying?

Melody Hossaini helped found the National Youth Parliament and therefore literally lobbies for England. Here's her advice:

To me it is simply exercising influence on decision-makers to achieve a desired result. It is influencing change.

Lobbying comes in loads of different forms. There are several ways you can 'lobby'. Traditional ways - like petitions and marches - shouldn't be overlooked and they have worked in the past. But nowadays we're looking for opportunities to be really creative, particularly for young people. And that's great as well because you want to bring a lot of attention to your campaign. With the use of technology you can gather more and more people behind the campaigner. The numbers that you have behind your campaign are really important.

For example with the UK Youth Parliament's Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) campaign they did a survey, (the traditional way) on young people's sex and relationship education in their schools. They got 23,000 responses from young people in this country. Even the government hasn’t consulted to that number! So it carries a lot of weight. As a result of that survey the government are going to implement the proposals from the survey: sex and relationship education is becoming compulsory, and they'll redo the structures and raise the quality of sex and relationship education. So that shows it's important to build force behind your campaign.

You can be creative about that and the use of technology which makes that easier to do.

My advice is:

  • Be very clear about your message. What is your campaign? What is it that you're exactly wanting to achieve?
  • What point of influence is it that you want to exert? Who is it that you want to influence?
  • What methods of lobbying can you use to achieve your outcome? This will depend on who you identify as needing to be influenced.

Get the message clear, then the more creative you can be with the message: get it out in the press, get people's attention, gather momentum.

With campaigning, in terms of lobbying big campaigns with big aims, you need a clear campaign plan. A group of young people could steer that. The clear message is really important.

Lobbying is all about an issue you're passionate about. It may sound scary to some people but all it is asking what is it you're passionate about and what is it you'd like to change. So that involves influencing those who make the decisions. If you want to achieve change you need to influence those who make the change. Who do you want to influence? Who are the powers in your community? A local counselor, the school, whatever it is, be clear about who, and then once you've got your message and who you want to influence then you can work out the method of lobbying to go with that.

NYA deliver act by right training - which helps develop young people's campaigning skills. Who are we as a group? What's our identity? What do we want to achieve? What's our campaign? Look in the community and see who are the powers? It might be the local mp or the granny up the road who exerts influence and power. How much of a power would we give to each one? Map the community, see where the influences lie, then go out and do it.

At the end of it all you can look back and evaluate - did we achieve what we wanted to achieve?

How does it work?

It depends what it is that you're trying to achieve which is why before you do anything you need to be very clear about what it is you'd like to achieve.

  • Think about filling gaps.
  • What’s the problem?
  • What’s the gap?
  • What would this campaign plan or message bring benefit to?

Once you've answered those questions you've already got a story there: this is the problem, this is what we should do about it.

Then the more people you get behind it the better so set up a steering group.

Here's what I think your plan should be:

  • What's your message?
  • What is it you want to achieve (What's the problem and what do you want to do?)
  • Now that you know what your message is who is that has the power to make the change on this?
  • What method do you use to reach this person or this body?
  • Build force behind it, bring people on board. 
  • Come up with creative ways in which you can do that.