No. WriteToThem is an independent website with no affiliation to any government, national or local.
It covers the whole of the UK and you can use it to write to any of your representatives, from your councillors to your MEPs.
The short answer is that WriteToThem is run by the charity mySociety, with the aim of making it easier to contact your representatives.
For the longer answer, please see WriteToThem's About Us page.
No. WriteToThem is a free service, and always will be.
Begin on WriteToThem's homepage.Type in your postcode and press the "Go" button.
We'll show you a list of everyone who represents you, from your local councillors to your MPs and MEPs.
Select the one you want to write to, and you will be taken to a simple form in which you can start writing your message straight away.
Once you are ready to send your letter, click 'preview and send'. This will take you to a screen where you can see exactly what your message will look like when we send it.
If everything is in order, click "I'm happy, send it" - or, if there's something you want to change, choose the "edit some more" button.
After that, there's just one more step - you must check your email inbox for our confirmation mail, and click on the link it contains.
Any response from your representative will come directly to your own email inbox - so make sure you have entered your email address correctly!
Most messages are sent directly to representatives' email addresses.
Messages to local councillors often go to the Democratic Services offices of that council, who will then forward it on to the right person.
When WriteToThem first started, we frequently faxed messages through, but this is much rarer these days.
No, WriteToThem does not provide this option.
If you need to send a photograph or documents to your representative, you can refer to them in your initial message.
Then wait until your representative responds to you. You'll be able to reply to their email directly, and attach whatever you need to via your own email account.
Before you click the "I'm happy, send it" button, you can edit your message as many times as you like, by clicking "Edit some more".
Once your message has been sent, it can no longer be edited. Think of WriteToThem like an email program - you can keep editing until you press 'send', but once you do, your message is on its way.
If you would like to cancel your message and not send it, please just do not click on the link in the confirmation email that will be sent to you. Once you have confirmed your message by clicking that link, it will probably have been sent pretty much instantly. Our best advice is to read your message carefully before confirming it.
We'd love to create a one-click service where your message went off to your representative as soon as you submitted it.
But we have to ask you to visit your email inbox, and click the link in our confirmation email, for a number of unavoidable reasons.
We need to verify that the message is coming from a real person; this step also helps prevent anyone else from using your email address to send a message that you didn't authorise.
Additionally, when you click the confirmation link, it shows us that your email address is valid, and that you'll receive any response that your representative sends.
This step is also a good opportunity for us to send you a copy of your message for your own records.
Sadly, no. There are more than 24,000 representatives in our database. Email addresses can change; inboxes can become overfull; representatives can retire; council or parliament (or our!) servers can fail.
We do everything we can to spot and eliminate problems though, so please let us know if you have found any issues.
Of course, if your message doesn't get through for any reason, we'll let you know.
When you click on the link in our confirmation email, you'll see a message in your browser to tell you that it's on its way.
If you hear no more, you can be pretty certain that it has reached its destination. If there is any issue - for example, your mail has bounced back from the representative's email - we will let you know.
You'll find a copy of your message automatically included in our confirmation email, and in our follow-up email two weeks later which asks whether you received a reply.
If you wish to search for these in your email, the titles include the phrases: "Please confirm that you want to send a message" and "Did your MP reply to your letter?".
It's much more powerful to write in your own words, telling your representative about your own beliefs and experiences. We want to make the voice of the individual more powerful, so we block "identikit" letters.
It would be easy to help people send lots of identical messages with one click. But then MPs would be drowned out by automated emailings organised by large campaigns groups and corporations. We prefer that representatives can trust messages from WriteToThem as being from real individuals, giving their own story.
If you're a pressure group, think about what you're doing. Ask your supporters to write to their own representative in their own words. Your message will be much more powerful. Even though your supporters may send fewer messages, their impact will be ahead of the game.
Still not convinced? Here's a quote from a Parliamentary researcher, whose job is to make the MP he/she works for as accessible as possible (such people are the hidden gems of our democracy):
MPs rather naturally take a sudden influx of identical or similar messages with a large pinch of salt, since they know that what they are seeing is stuff from a minority of constituents who are either impassioned/neurotic about the topic concerned or who are easily gulled into agreeing with some plausible story and sending the message, since it takes minimum effort to do so.
Given a daily mailbag of (say) 50 individual messages from individual constituents, on a wide range of topics, when the mailbag suddenly rises to 100 a day, 50 of which are much the same as each other, the representative has no way at all of knowing whether the message concerned is representative of opinion in the constituency.
All he or she knows is that 50 constituents have been persuaded to mail them about 'topic X'. Much more notice is taken of trends within the regular flow of messages from clearly identified constituents. If in a month 50 people write in different ways and through different routes with similar views on a subject, this is much more likely to raise the profile of the topic with the MP.
So please don't copy and paste the same message as everyone else. And don't encourage others to do so. It's worse than useless as we'll automatically stop your messages before they get through. Ask people to write in their own words. If they care enough about your issue, they'll do so.
There are several reasons we don't just publish representatives' email addresses on WriteToThem.
However, if you do need an email address for legitimate reasons, you can generally find MPs' addresses on the Parliament website, and councillors' addresses on your own council's site.
One of the primary reasons for WriteToThem's existence is to help people write to their representatives, even if they don't know who they are.
It's easy enough to find your MP's email address if you happen to know who he or she is, but 78% of the UK population cannot name their representative in Parliament (figure comes from the Hansard Society Audit of Public Engagement 2013 [PDF]).
If you know you want to write to someone in power, but you have no idea how to, then we hope that WriteToThem removes that barrier.
Similarly, you might think it is relatively easy to visit your council website and discover who your local councillors are. We'd say that it depends on the council website. In some cases, it's a wee bit easier to put your postcode into WriteToThem's homepage.
Elected representatives have a duty to listen and respond to those who live in their areas of responsibility — but they can't possibly cope with regular communication from the entire UK population. We try to strike a balance between getting people listened to, and filling their inboxes with problems which it is not their job to solve.
We don't let anyone write to any representative — our service is only to enable people to write to their own elected representatives (or any lord). If we did let anyone write to any representative in the country, professional lobbyists would use us to mail every one of the representatives, in the same way as marketeers junk-mail as many people as they can. Eventually, representatives would ignore every message sent through our service, instead of trusting it as a source of genuine letters from genuine constituents. And the main losers in this would be real constituents with real problems.
Ministers are often best contacted via your MP.
Ask your MP to pass on your concern to the relevant Minister. They will do this even if they disagree with you, although you should ask them to add their own support if they do agree.
Your MP will return the response that they get from the Minister. If necessary, your MP can also chase the Minister, on your behalf, through Questions in Parliament..
If you would like to contact a Minister directly, you may find a list of their contact details on this list of departments and ministers on the Parliament website.
We've heard a few people talk about making a "Write to a Minister" website in the past, but it hasn't happened yet. Contact us if you would like to fund such a site.
For now, WriteToThem concentrates on being a way for you to contact your elected representatives. If your MP happens to also be a Minister, you can still of course contact them using WriteToThem.
Please do not try to write to a Minister who is not your MP using WriteToThem. Your message may go to their constituency office as an MP, and that's not the right place to handle it.
Lords aren't tied to any constituency - you may write to any of them.
But, as there is no correlation between your postcode and any specific Lord, how do you know which one to contact? That's where our special Write To A Lord section comes in - it suggests a Lord for you, via a number of means.
Need to get in touch with one Lord in particular? Go to another of our sites, www.TheyWorkForYou.com, and find the Lord you need there. On each Lord's profile page there is a link to contact them via WriteToThem.
We might! It's been requested a few times, and every time someone makes the request, it pushes it up our list of priorities. So if this something you'd like to see, let us know.
Or, if you have the skills, feel free to help us add this functionality. WriteToThem is open source: read more about contributing code here.
Please check our advice on common reasons why postcodes aren't recognised by our system. Don't forget to check your postcode on the Royal Mail site.
If that doesn't help, please get in touch and let us know the postcode that's causing trouble.
Meanwhile, if you need to contact your representative urgently, we would suggest, with caution, inputting a postcode from a neighbouring street. It is more than likely that this will bring up your representatives, but please be aware that if your postcode falls close to a constituency boundary, there is a small chance of error.
WriteToThem depends on a piece of software (named MapIt) which works by matching postcodes to constituencies.
Your postcode may be one of the few that straddles two constituencies - this does create problems for MapIt, and for those who live in such postcode areas.
In this situation MapIt can't assign two constituencies to the same postcode, and so we recommend that people in your situation use our site by inputting a nearby postcode in the correct constituency.
It's a bit of a workaround, but in cases like this we're afraid it's the best we can suggest.
With over 24,000 representatives in our database, this does sometimes happen. Perhaps your chosen representative has changed their email address; or perhaps the email address we had for them bounced back.
In any case, you can help. If you have a few minutes to Google for an active email address, and then send it to us, we can put it into the system, and you'll have helped everyone else who wants to mail that person. Consider it your good deed for the day.
The most common reasons for this are:
If you cannot find our message in your spam folder, and you have looked in any alternative email accounts that you might have used, please let us know - we can track down your original message and send it off from our end.
WriteToThem's system sends out a limited number of automated emails, and we've worked hard to strike a balance between keeping the site functional, and bothering our users.
We understand that it can be a nuisance to receive automated emails, but we do try to keep the balance right.
Please let us know. Include the text of any error message you received, and please let us know if you are on a desktop or mobile device and what browser you are using (eg Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc).
You may also like to check our Twitter feed to see if we've flagged up any current problems with the site.
Please see our separate Privacy and Cookies page.
If everything goes smoothly with your message, it will be seen only by you and its recipient. Some representatives also have staff to help them with their mail; councillors' emails often go through a Democratic Services office.
If there is an issue with your message, for example, it bounces back, or our system flags that it is a potential abuse of the site, WriteToThem support staff may view it. Under these circumstances, we read as little of the content as possible in order to fix the problem and, if appropriate, get your message on its way.
We email our users to ask whether or not they've received a response from their representative just two weeks after their message is sent.
We consider this to be a reasonable timeframe, and we certainly receive a good number of 'yes' replies.
If you haven't heard back within this amount of time, see the next question.
There are lots of things you can do to follow up your enquiry if you get no reply from your representative.
If you are dissatisfied with a response, we would encourage a follow-up message, phone call, or face to face visit at a local surgery.
If email is your preferred route, you can of course send a further message via WriteToThem. It's only if constituents tell their representatives what they expect from them, in communications as in all things, that they will know that they are considered unsatisfactory by some.
Your representative is (of course) not obliged to agree with your views, but he or she is obliged to listen to them and to take them into consideration even if they disagree.
Sorry, no. WriteToThem is a means for you to contact the people who are there to help you. We'll do everything we can to help get your message through, but after that it's up to your representatives.
Two weeks after you use WriteToThem, we email you to ask whether you received a reply from your representative.
The results from this questionnaire allow us to be sure that the service is continuing to work for people. They also inform our responsiveness league table.
It's a ranking, listing all MPs, together with the number of WriteToThem messages they replied to, based on your questionnaire responses. You can see more (including how we compile it, and the caveats you ought to be aware of) here
Our questionnaire asks, simply, whether you received a response (other than a mere acknowledgement).
We know that things can sometimes be more complicated than this: perhaps your message didn't require a response. Perhaps you got a response but it didn't actually answer your question.
However, we keep this question simple because its answer informs the metric we care most about: is WriteToThem still working?
If you feel that your response will not contribute usefully to our results, don't worry - we have plenty of data to work with. Maybe you can respond next time.
Unfortunately, our links break in some email programs.
Please try copying and pasting the link into the address bar of your browser. If that doesn't work, check for any obvious problems in the link, for example, a space or a line break between characters.
If neither of these tips help, please forward the entire email to us, including the link, and we will try to get to the bottom of it.
You can return to the questionnaire mail at any time and click on the relevant link - the last click will always override any previous ones.
We're very glad to hear it!
If you would like to show your appreciation, please consider making a donation to mySociety, who built and maintain WriteToThem.
You can also help us greatly by spreading the word about the site. Tell all your friends, write to the local paper, or put a message on your library's noticeboard. It all helps.
Then we want to hear from you. Don't hesitate to contact us.
You may be interested in browsing our development list to see what we're already working on, or have planned for the future.
Like most mySociety projects, WriteToThem's code is open source, and free for anyone to use. However, we currently advise people that the newer WriteIt software fulfils the same functions and is a lot easier to install.
WriteIt is part of the Poplus Project, an initiative which encourages shared, collaborative coding for democratic purposes. You can read more about it, and WriteIt, here.