Do you want to help bring about real changes to breastfeeding in the UK? If so, read on, because every baby born in this country needs your help.
If you’ve been a regular on the UK Breastfeeding blog then you’ll know all about the WBTi, and how it is identifying every aspect of breastfeeding policy and practice that is falling short and generating recommendations for how they can be improved.
But how can we make sure that those recommendations get put into practice? That’s where you come in – by influencing your MP and making sure they understand that this issue is important to you and to thousands of other families in their constituency.
In November, the WBTi steering group was delighted to be invited to the first-ever meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Infant Feeding and Inequalities. This was organised by Alison Thewliss MP, who is as committed as we are to bringing about real improvements to infant health through breastfeeding.
All Party Parliamentary Groups are an excellent way to educate and inform interested MPs, who can then take questions to the floor of the House of Commons, help to push issues to the top of the political agenda, and hold government ministers to account. There are APPGs for every subject under the sun, but until now there has not been one dedicated to infant feeding, which affects every baby in this country!
At the meeting in November, Helen Gray and Clare Meynell gave an excellent presentation on the WBTi project, explaining why politicians should care about breastfeeding and how current practices result in so many mothers stopping breastfeeding much earlier than they wanted to.
But, by the time they had begun their first slide, Alison Thewliss was the only MP still in the room!
Clearly, we need more MPs to come along and listen to these important messages and to push for change on behalf of the mothers and babies in their constituencies and around the country.
So please spare 5 minutes to write to your MP to make sure they attend the next meeting (for MPs only), which is on Tuesday 19th January at 9.30am in Room W1 of Westminster Hall. Can you spare those few moments to help make a difference?
As MPs are more likely to respond to your own letter than to a standard letter, the best approach is to adapt the short letter below using your own words. If you can add information about your own experience and why you think the APPG is needed, that would have even more impact.
It is essential to include your name and address (and postcode) as MPs can only respond to requests from their own constituency.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Go to http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
- Input your postcode
- Once you have identified who your local MP is, send them the following message. Remember to include your full name and postcode.
- Please feel free to send us any response you receive from your MP.
Model letter (please adapt):
Dear [insert MP’s name]
As my local MP, I am writing to ask if you will represent me, and an interest close to my heart, in the House of Commons?
There have been efforts to establish an All Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding & Inequalities in the UK Parliament. Although the group tried to form in November, I understand that there wasn’t enough cross-party representation, particularly from Conservative and Labour MPs. I was really disappointed to learn that this actually prohibited the group from getting off the ground.
However, I gather that there is another short meeting for MPs to establish the APPG on Tuesday 19th January at 9.30am in W1 of Westminster Hall.
Will you attend the meeting on my behalf and ensure this group gets off the ground? Will you add your name to join the group?
There are so many important discussions and campaigns which should be considered around the area of infant feeding, and I would be delighted if you, as my MP, could attend and help raise this issue on my behalf.
I look forward to hearing from you.
9 thoughts on “Taking it to the top – All Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding”
I have sent a letter to Chris Heaton Harris Conservative MP for Daventry, my local MP.
Great response from our Portsmouth South (tory) mp. She wasn’t aware of Nov’s attempt but is very keen to promote breastfeeding (and seems to genuinely consider it an important subject in general) so will try to attend this meeting and show her interest in joining the APPG.
I have had a response from my local MP David Hanson, he has responded see below:
Thanks I’m happy to add my name to the group as a supporting labour member – I may not be able to attend the first meeting but adding my name means the group can meet – do you know who is organising so I can let them know ?
Who should I direct him to?
Sorry for the late reply. Alison Thewliss is the MP organising the group.
Have sent email to my local MP, in Kettering and he has responded saying he is happy to represent me at this meeting! Let’s hope he keeps his word!
Thanks so much for all of these responses and for contacting your MPs. We have heard that there were enough MPs on the day, and the group has been officially registered now. Great result! We are waiting to hear back from Alison Thewliss about who is part of the group and what happens next. We will update the Facebook group as soon as we have details.
Dear Breastfeeding Trends
Just to let you know that my MP Chris Heaton-Harris, has replied to my letter. I can’t scan so have typed out the main part of his letter:
“Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the debate on the 19th January due to prior parliamentary commitments.
However, I do understand the importance of the matter you raise. In fact, you may be interested to learn that I am Vice-Chair of the all Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Maternity and have been active in the establishment of an APPG on prematurity and infant mortality. I also secured a debate in Westminster Hall on premature babies in November and have long supported charities in this area.
Thus I will certainly keep the matters you raise regarding infant feeding in mind as I progress with my current APPG membership, and will happily support the work of the APPG on Infant Feeding should it progress” ……………..
That sounds very promising, please will you pass on his interest to Alison Thewliss and hopefully he might join the new APPG on Infant Feeding.
I contacted Suffolk MP James Cartlidge. No reply yet but I am really pleased that you managed to get the working group together. Well done.