If you are a veteran and want to get involved in the campaign to raise the enlistment age to 18, here are three things you can do:
1. Email Child Soldiers International
firstname.lastname@example.org with a quote they can use publicly (e.g. in campaign documents or on the website) on why you personally think the recruitment age should be raised. They can use it anonymously if you prefer, but it’s helpful if you can include: your age when you enlisted (it doesn’t matter if you were over 18) and which branch / regiment / role you were in. You don’t need to include facts and figures, it’s your opinion that counts.
2. Write to your MP
You can get their details by typing in your postcode here – http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Writing to MPs doesn’t change anything in itself and getting a standard response can be frustrating, but in this campaign it is very useful because people are constantly contacting ministers and policy makers for all the major parties to discuss this issue. The more time the issue crops up in correspondence from their constituents, the more they feel that there is a public interest in the matter (= ‘votes’) and the more likely they are to get involved. Even the MPs who are most hostile to the campaign will feel the pressure.
- When you write, start with the magic words: “As your constituent, and an armed forces veteran…”. MPs get thousands of letters a week. Most go into the bin. Yours will not.
- Briefly tell them why you believe the age should be raised – one or two paragraphs maximum is enough. Try to keep the whole letter within one side of A4.
- Ask them to ‘raise the matter with the Minister of Defence and ask for a reply’. These are also magic words – if you do this, the MP has to contact the Minister and the Minister must provide a response. If you don’t ask for this, the MP can read it and do nothing, and so can the Minister.
- Ask them to sign EDM 694 (link:https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/business-papers/commons/early-day-motions/edm-detail1/?edmnumber=694&session=2016-17).
If you get a reply, it’s useful but not essential if you can let us know.
3. Speak up in the media
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for stories on relevant issues and contribute to the debate whenever you can – letters to newspapers, radio phone-ins etc. Local media are important – and more likely to give you time than national outlets. If you keep a standard letter ready in your email drafts, you can ping the same one off whenever something crops up so it doesn’t take you too long. And when you see these opportunities, try to circulate them to other VFP members so they can add their voices too. You don’t need to know all the statistics and policy details – what media really want is to hear personal stories from people with experience. But if you do want to brush up on the figures, you can get most of them here – https://www.child-soldiers.org/shop/the-british-armed-forces-why-raising-the-recruitment-age-would-benefit-everyone
Thank you for getting involved – we cannot win this campaign without you.