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A guide to every way you can get involved in the Together for Yes campaign

From podcasts to canvassing, we’ve got you covered.

LET’S NOT PRETEND like the 8th Amendment Referendum is an easy time for any of us. Abortion has been one of the most debated topics in the country’s history and the fact that a referendum is 6 weeks away is forcing many people to confront the issue who might not have done before.

Now more than ever is the time to get involved if you haven’t done so already. The prospect of getting involved can seem daunting to many people and it’s not hard to see why. It takes a lot of courage to go knocking on doors and asking people their views on abortion.

But it should be emphasised that you don’t have to go canvassing to get involved. They are so many ways to contribute to the campaign and make a difference.

For example if you know of a local Together for Yes group in your area, get in contact with them and see if they need help. They might need help with leafleting or need someone to run a social media account.

They might need help with lifts for stalls or canvassing or they might just want someone to proofread their materials. They might just want someone to make tea after a long day of activism. It’s honestly that easy.

As we’ve seen donation goes a long, long, long way so if you can spare a few quid then donate to the campaign. They need every bit of help they can get. Buying merchandise is another great way to help and it all looks great which helps!

If you don’t have time for that (because let’s face it life is really hectic) then a retweet or a share of a post can go a long way. Follow the campaign on social media and if you feel comfortable, share their posts on your feed.

Social media campaigns like ‘In Her Shoes‘ which documents the real stories of people who have had to travel have an incredible impact . You never know whose mind might be changed after reading a post like theirs.

If you feel able to do it, having chats with family members and friends goes a long way. People have questions and concerns and chatting with them is a great way to engage them. If you don’t have answers to their questions point them in the direction of resources which do.

Things like the report from the Committee on the 8th Amendment, the Together for Yes webpage, checktheregister.ie and the Referendum Commission  are some good resources to point people in the direction of.

Another great resource is podcasts. Una Mullally and Andrea Horan’s ‘Don’t Stop Repealin‘ and Ciara O’Connor’s ‘The Eighth’ are both excellent podcasts dealing with every aspect of the Referendum and the issue in general.

If you are feeling up to canvassing then now is the time. I personally just started canvassing my local town in North Kildare and it’s something I would absolutely recommend.

If you’ve never done any sort of canvassing or if you don’t feel able to speak then don’t worry. You’ll be paired with someone who has canvassed before and you go canvassing in pairs. You won’t be left on your own.

Talking to people itself can be a terrifying prospect. Let me say that most people don’t want a fight. Some people have made up their minds already and don’t want to discuss it, some people won’t tell you how they’re voting (Irish people seem very cagey about that in general) and some people just won’t open the door. That’s ok.

For those that don’t open the door, leave a leaflet. At least that way you know they’re getting some of the information. For those who open but don’t want to talk or don’t want to tell you just thank them for their time and move on. Always be polite, don’t trample on flowers and always close gates behind you.

Some people want to voice their concerns and you should let them and answer any questions they have or direct them to resources that can if you can’t. Nearly everyone you come across is polite and fair so don’t be discouraged if you do get a few rude or nasty people. There will always be some.

If I can share one story with you from canvassing then let it be this. Last night I knocked on the door of an older woman. She answered and we told her who we were and what we were campaigning for. We asked her if she’d thought about which way she’d vote and she said all her life she’s wanted to protect the child.

We took this as a no and then she kept talking. She told us that it was so sad that women had to travel to England to have an abortion. She told us that it was a tragedy and that she just wanted the mothers to be looked after too. She told us that because of that she’d be voting yes and told us we were great girls for canvassing.

It had been a night with many unanswered doors so this lovely woman restored my faith in people which I had to admit had been shaken a little.

With 6 weeks to go, we’re facing a long and possibly difficult campaign. If you can get involved in any way then please do because I suspect that there’s a lot more of those kind of people out there. We just have to reach them.

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About the author:

Rachel O'Neill

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