MPs retain a strong link with their constituencies and are judged in part by their ability to defend and promote local interests.
Beyond their duties at Westminster, MPs act as high-profile community leaders, a link to and influence on local authorities and the local media and a channel to Government departments and ministers.
MPs have a duty to represent the views of all their constituents, not just those who voted for them.
This means that making them aware of the strength of feeling on an issue is important, even if they do not share your views.
MPs pay a great deal of attention to an issue if they receive a lot of letters about it.
If an MP is supportive of your concerns, you can ask him or her to help by
MPs are usually at Westminster from about midday Monday to Thursday evening.
Parliament goes into recess from July to mid-October, with breaks for Christmas, Easter and Whitsun.
If you do not know who your local MPs are, you can find out from your local library or council offices, phone the House of Commons information line (020 7219 4272) or visit the website: www.parliament.uk
It is worth finding out more about them, including :
First contact with your MP will usually be best made by writing - either to register a concern or seek a meeting.
Short, polite letters are most likely to receive a response and briefings should be kept to two sides of A4 at most.
Make connections between your objectives and the known interests of your MP or any recent comments they have made.
If meeting an MP in person, decide beforehand what you are going to say and what you want out of the meeting.
Relationships with your MP's researchers and secretaries should be cultivated as much as with the MP because they can be good allies and help you make your case to your MP.