Campaigning for Alzheimer’s Society by meeting your MP

Society campaigner Tricia, in West Suffolk, explains how meeting her MP helped secure some important commitments on dementia. 

My lovely mum was my best friend and travel companion, we were very close. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s almost a decade ago, it was like a bomb had dropped on our world. We were left to navigate the system with no signposting or advice. Our roles reversed – I became her voice and had to fight for everything. 

After I lost Mum, I wanted to help others. When I was ready, I volunteered for Alzheimer’s Society and have become involved with Dementia Voice, Dementia Friends and their campaigns. 

Society campaigner Tricia with her MP

Tricia (right) with MP Jo.

Shared experience 

I received the Society’s campaign emails, asking me to lobby my MP, which I did. Then there was an email asking people to actually meet their MP. 

At first, I thought I was out of my comfort zone, but then I thought of my corporate background. So I decided, if it will help, I’m happy to help. 

I emailed my MP Jo Churchill and received a reply, but not the meeting date I had requested and was hoping for, so I persisted. I tried to get my point across – that as a constituent, I really want to do what I can to make a change. I asked her to give some time to listen to my story, and was offered a meeting. 

I was told I had half an hour, but the meeting actually lasted an hour. At the start, it was a little bit daunting, as it’s very painful when you share your story about a loved one.

I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up emotionally, but after the first 10 minutes I felt quite comfortable. I mentioned the lack of signposting I’d experienced. 

Unless someone has had their own personal journey with dementia, it’s difficult to describe it to them, but both Jo and her secretary have, so there was a connection there and they were happy to listen. We had a shared experience, and Jo was able to identify with some of the things I was talking about.

Mum’s legacy 

Jo asked how she could help and has agreed to support a dementia awareness event in Bury St Edmunds next year. Her office emailed me a couple of weeks after the meeting to follow up about the event, which was really quite refreshing. 

The idea is still embryonic, but I have that commitment on email and won’t give up – I’ll ensure that it happens. I’ve asked if she can get all seven Suffolk MPs to attend the event. We also discussed her visiting the Alzheimer’s Society stand at the Conservative Party Conference, which she did. 

MPs have a very privileged position where they can actually do something. They have the ear of the Prime Minister or the health secretary, so the more Society supporters who are able to meet their MP the better.

I found it a pleasure to meet her and get that commitment to help. 

Doors are opening, with opportunities to make people aware of dementia and how to navigate through. You shouldn’t have to fight for everything. 

It would be a nice legacy for my mum, if we could bring about change for people in the future. 

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Together, we can make a difference to the lives of the 850,000 people living with dementia, their loved ones and informal carers in the UK. 

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Dementia together magazine

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now