With canvasing now in full swing, it has been a great few weeks for WEP Leeds! So far, we have knocked on over 2000 doors - but there is a lot more to do. The inclusion of Hyde Park in the new Headingley and Hyde Park ward means an extra 6,700 voters have been added to the area - a roughly 50% increase! Though this is a potentially daunting prospect, with your help it need not be.
We need our members in Leeds to come out and canvass to ensure we have a councillor who puts equality at the heart of everything they do. Understandably, everyone is nervous about their first-time canvassing. It is hard not to imagine a Paxman-esque figure answering the door, expecting you to be able to recite a detailed critique of each page of the WEP manifesto! However, the reality is quite different. In fact, the initial feeling can be one of anti-climax - nobody answers the door for the first six or seven times you knock! Once somebody does answer, you quickly realise it is not nearly as daunting as you first imagined.
As Laura Wood, WEP Leeds founding member, recently found, her worries about canvasing quickly evaporated as soon as she got started, “on my way to my first day of canvassing in last year’s general election, I was so nervous I looked like a rabbit in the headlights! But when I got there everyone was real friendly and it was all very laid back. I was paired up with someone who I’ve since become good friends with and when I got used to what to say and got some confidence I started to really enjoy it. Canvassing for WEP has brought out a side of me I didn’t know was there and I’m so glad I overcame my initial fears and got involved.”
As Caroline Hunt, Coordinator for WEP Leeds and WEP Shipley, recently experienced, the response from residents can be very up lifting. Her favourite recent canvassing conversation was “with a man who opened the door and after I introduced myself, replied "oh that's fantastic!” It's about time. I'm so glad the Women's Equality Party is standing here" The general public are (on the whole!) a genial bunch, and getting a positive response gives you a real confidence boost.
Whilst some voters have heard of the party, quite often canvasing is about providing more information about who we are and getting the key messages across. Alice White, Joint Communications Officer for WEP Leeds, said, “the last time I went canvassing, I knocked on the door of a older lady called Sally. Sally had lived in Headingley all her life, and when I told her that we were standing a candidate for the area, she was - and I’m not exaggerating here - overjoyed! Sally was really excited about the prospect of having a councillor for Leeds who would champion women, and wanted to know more about issues like equal pay, equal parenting rights between men and women, and equal representation in the workplace. She told me it was “time for a change now.” We think it definitely is.”
We hope that the tales from Headingley and Hyde Park will encourage you to get out and canvas – there really is nothing to fear. In fact, we can thoroughly recommend the experience. Getting out on the streets, spreading the word is now more pressing than ever. With only two full months left before election day, time is flying by. This is why we really need your help to make sure everyone in Headingley & Hyde Park has heard of us!
Sign up to canvass on our dedicated page today! You don’t need anything at all to get started, just some comfy shoes and a positive attitude! We will provide training for any new canvassers and we always ensure people can pair up with more experienced campaigners if they want.