Heather Stillufsen for Etsy
Yes, they do! That’s the short answer. If done properly, that is. A recent success came when millions of people across England were appalled that the government was going to sell off our remaining forests to private industry to be in ‘safe hands’. Mmm. So a petition at 38 Degrees got going, and the idea was quickly shelved. The government admitted later that this was not its finest hour. Also read up on how to be a peaceful troublemaker!
To be a peaceful troublemaker, simply means making a difference, while not getting too angry or political. There’s no point annoying people to create change, just state your case and get on with it. Start or sign petitions at 38 Degrees or Change. It does work (Change has over 200 million users worldwide).
Online petitions to government rarely work, as you just have to get to 100,000 signatures, then the government has to by law debate it. It does, the Bill gets shelved and off we go again. To make a successful petition means not constantly bothering people with distressing images, and having a desired outcome. People also don’t like having their inbox or privacy invaded, and many people for whatever reason don’t want to give their names, so you have to get creative with making a successful petition.
Petitions have existed since Egyptian times, when slaves building the pyramids campaigned for better working conditions. In fact, one of the best ways to create change is by not doing stuff. If you don’t agree with Facebook or Amazon, simply vote with your feet and don’t support them.
- Lucy’s Law was recently passed (named in honour of a dog that died after being bred for puppy farming). Due to huge public support, the ban of puppy farms is well under way, with the laws now changed on the sale of pets.
- Caylee’s Law (US) makes it an offence to not report a child of 13 or younger missing, after 24 hours.
- Another US petition got rid of the ban on allowing gay boys to join the Boy Scouts.
- You can read 500 more successful petitions at 38 Degrees if you want some food for thought and inspiration. From bans on new coal mining to environmental protection laws to banning the import of trophy hunting. One of the best-known recent petition campaigns was to give Sir Tom Moore his knighthood, before he sadly died from COVID.
Heather Stillufsen for Etsy
If you do start a petition, it’s likely most effective if you keep things local. You could campaign for a local eyesore to be cleaned up. Take photos and send a public complaint to your council via Fix My Street then get everyone in your community to do the same, until the issue is fixed.
Get your local MP on board. Politicians love getting up in parliament and always manage to include the words ‘my constituents’. So see if they put their money where their mouth is and support your local petition, just try to make it non-political, for best success. Visit They Work For You to find out how your MP voted on issues important to you (you can see which ones voted to sell off your forests, see above), then write to them.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead