Focus: Policy and Politics - Campaign 'on a shoestring'

Foyer Federation proves it can be done cheaply. By Nathalie Thomas.

The Foyer Federation has hung posters at Westminster tube station as part of a low-budget but tightly targeted public affairs campaign designed to reach MPs and other influential people on their way to and from work.

The Give Us A Chance campaign calls for the abolition of the 16-hour housing benefit rule, which the federation says forces young people to choose between their homes and education by dictating that, if you are over 19, you cannot claim housing benefit if you are studying full time.

As well as posters, which advertise the campaign website address, Give Us A Chance includes a week of action in which 40 young people from foyers across the country will go to Parliament and talk to MPs about the issues affecting them.

Sophie Livingstone, head of policy and communications at the Foyer Federation, says the campaign has been done on a shoestring and proves that charities do not need big budgets to conduct lobbying drives.

"It is important to be specific in what you are doing," says Livingstone.

"I was thinking for some time of doing some sort of stunt that would draw attention to the fact that we were having problems funding learning in foyers."

She adds that the campaign will be even more cost-effective because all the materials will be available for use in future campaigns. "I don't see the website having an end," she says. "And the posters aren't time-sensitive either."

The federation has also spent time fostering relationships with MPs who have foyers in their constituencies, in a bid to help promote issues affecting young people at a national level.

It has also set up events at which young people can talk directly to representatives of the Government.

The Foyer Federation supports 130 foyers - centres that combine housing and learning support for young people - across the UK.

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