There’s a lot that needs changing about endometriosis diagnosis, care, treatments and support across the UK. Successful petitions can be used to help draw the attention of politicians, the media and the public to issues faced by those with endometriosis and seek change. Two examples of successful petitions are:
- Endometriosis UK set up a change.org petition asking the Schools Minister for England to include menstrual wellbeing in the English national curriculum, which was being reviewed at the time. The petition was signed by over 100,000 people, and demonstrating this strength of feeling allowed us to arrange two meetings with the Minister who then agreed to include menstrual wellbeing in the English new national curriculum.
- Someone with endometriosis set up a UK parliament petition on endometriosis and PCOS research. Over 100,000 people signed the petition asking for more research funding for endometriosis and PCOS, which led to a debate in the UK parliament.
What to think about when setting up a petition
If you are thinking of setting up a petition, here are a few things to think about in order to develop a petition that is successful in gaining support:
- Do your research – make sure that you are not asking for something that has already been agreed.
- Explain the problem clearly and succinctly including why change is needed. To check you’ve done this, you could ask someone unfamiliar with the topic to read your petition text to see if they understand.
- If it is relevant and you feel comfortable doing so, share your personal experience of the problem.
- Have clear, well-defined and realistic asks, e.g. “Ensure GP training includes education on menstrual health and wellbeing including endometriosis” rather than “All GPs should know about endometriosis”
- Aim your petition at the right decision makers – which UK government/department/minister, which public body/regulator is responsible?
- Check what you have written to make sure it is accurate. You might want to include some references, for example to government policies or statements and published research.
Endometriosis UK often gets asked to promote petitions. We will consider each request on a case-by-case basis, and are not able to help with all. If you’re thinking of developing a petition you would like to us to promote it, we recommend that you get in touch before you submit it, as once it’s online it unlikely you’ll be able to make even minor alterations to the text. We can discuss the wording and advise (if relevant) the appropriate Decision Maker to target for the petition request. We are not able to support petitions that contain inaccurate or ambiguous information about endometriosis or treatments that are not evidenced based.
All UK parliaments allow petitions and have rules for setting them up:
- UK Parliament petitions – only British citizens and UK residents can sign, 5 people must support the initial petition, 10,000 signatures requires government response, 100,000 signatures requires government to consider holding parliamentary debate
- Scottish Parliament petitions – must be on devolved matter, petitioner must have already contacted at least 1 MSP or the Scottish Govt on the matter, petitions are considered by Citizen Participation and Petitions Committee, which then decides on action which can include referral to another committee, debate in the chamber, recommended actions for the Scottish Govt or closing the petition.
- Welsh Senedd (EN) & Senedd Cymru (CYM) – must be on devolved matters, can be submitted in English or Welsh and only people/organisations with an address in Wales can set up a petition. Petitions are considered by Petitions Committee (EN) Y Pwyllgor Deisebau (CYM) once they have 50 signatures and are considered for debate after 10,000 signatures. Petitions committee action can include referral to another committee, press Welsh government for action or undertaking an inquiry.
- Northern Ireland Assembly – must be on devolved matters, MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly) can present public petitions to the Business Committee for consideration. The Speaker can then arrange for the petition to be sent to the relevant Minister, copied to the Chair of the relevant Committee for response.
In addition, there are other petition platforms, the most commonly used being:
- Change.org – independent petition platform which allows petitions on a wide range of topics. Change encourages you to identify the decision makers you wish to influence and engage with them. Further guidance here. Change petitions do not automatically get debated in parliament(s) if a certain number of signatories is reached.