How to Make a Difference!

How to Make a Difference!

How to make a difference!

Members of Young Farmers Clubs (YFC) like to have their voices heard and the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) is proud to support YFC members in doing just that. Whether it’s making sure you have the opportunity to have your favourite competition on the national competitions programme or putting a case to government about opportunities for young people.

YFC members are constantly advised by politicians and industry leaders to make sure they express their views and help shape their own future. To help with this, NFYFC has produced a ‘How to make a difference’ guide in association with the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The terms used to make a difference are lobbying and campaigning. You can lobby your YFC club chairman, your NFYFC chairman, a county councillor, politician or industry leader. You can start a campaign, in which lobbying can play a part, to recruit more members or to change the environment you live in.

What does it mean to ‘lobby’ something?

It means getting support from a person of influence or informing people who make the law in order to influence their action. For instance, if you feel strongly that there are inadequate facilities for young people in your village, you might ask for a meeting with a parish councillor.

Or if it’s an on-going issue concerning your YFC club or county, you could get in touch with your council, national steering group chairman or national office holders.

Members of the NFYFC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Steering Group want to make sure that county council farm estates are not sold. The action they take, and action they encourage others to take, includes writing letters to county councillors, responding to consultations and attending meetings.

Members of clubs within a specific county might want support on an issue they feel strongly about. They express their views to their council representative and write letters to the appropriate steering group chairman or national office holders.

What does it mean to campaign?

The word campaign means an organised course of action especially to gain publicity. Taking action on an issue that’s important to you and that you are prepared to let everyone know about.

You can use different media – press, blogs, website, radio or television to explain what you are doing, why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve. You can give talks, attend meetings and gather evidence to show that you have support.

If members of 5 clubs within a county write letters or start a petition, that’s a lot of evidence. It shows that you feel strongly about a particular subject. If you publicise what you are doing this demonstrates that you want people to know what your issue is and attracts attention and support. If a national campaign is launched and every YFC member supports it, that’s over 22,000 people who are saying they want something to happen. Statistics provide evidence and that’s what’s needed for action!

To summarise, lobbying is the action we take forward as part of a campaign to achieve change.

So both lobbying and campaigning seek change, but lobbying is the one-to-one interaction. This is why meeting the right person, knowing what they are likely to say, developing a relationship and making (your) desired change easy for them is so critical, and why research and evidence are so important.

What do you need to think about if you’re going make a difference?

Have a clear aim / What are you trying to achieve?
Have some supporting evidence to back up your request.
You could use the same evidence to prevent something from happening! / More training!
Step 1
Five clubs in a county want more training and have asked their county representative to raise this at an area meeting.
Step 2
Four area chairmen have asked their council representative to report back to a national council meeting that additional training is required for clubs and this is noted for action.
Better broadband for rural areas!
2,000 members have signed a petition, written letters to their MPs and county councillors, used research statistics to show their need for broadband in rural areas. The MP represents his constituents at Parliament and the councillors at a council meetings.
Who are the key people to take this evidence to? / Your YFC County Chairman, NFYFC Council representative, a local county councillor, your local Member of Parliament (MP) or your Member of European Parliament (MEP).
Who will support your cause? / Other YFC members, people living in rural areas, rural organisations facing the same problem. Can you think of ‘unlikely allies’ to your cause? Often these can make a difference by adding a different perspective but sharing with your a common aim.
When would you like this change to happen? / Plan accordingly! Change doesn’t often happen overnight. If decisions have already been made, make sure you find out when/if they can be changed, why the decision was taken and take action accordingly.


If you have an issue that you need to change, you might not be alone. Can other club members or other organisations help with your cause?

If you get support from others, this will have to be well-managed and well-thought through.

- Make sure you discuss the aims and objectives of your joint-work so that no-one has unrealistic expectations or isn’t clear of the outcome you are trying to achieve

- Consider the benefits and possible negatives before you enter any partnership of joint-work.

How do you prove your case for trying to influence a decision?

- If there is a widespread problem, it should be easy to collect some evidence. Evidence will be part of what’s needed for anyone to undertake research and provide statistics to influence change. Action and change usually cost money, so there must be statistics and research to back up the intended action

- Hold a meeting and invite someone who can influence to listen to your concerns and document the meeting. If you are confident that you would like your concerns to be in the public domain, invite the press so that they can record the meeting and help your cause

- Draw up a petition. Have a statement explaining your cause and what you want done about it and ask people to sign and support it

- Encourage people to write letters explaining their concerns

- Commission your own survey so that you have your own research statistics.

Thinking it through!

If you think you know what the solution to the problem is, suggest it. Being constructive is helpful.

Consider the problem for the person/organisation/government department that you’re trying to influence and think how easy your suggestion will be to implement. Does it need money, time, more people, change of policy, or relatively little change?

Are there sensible suggestions you can make to help justify change?


You might find you gain more support for your cause if people know what you’re doing!

Useful methods of communication:

- Newspapers or newsletters

- Radio or television

- Website – blogs, podcasts, social networking

- Poster campaign

- Presentations


If you do manage to be successful in influencing change, make sure you tell everyone what you want to achieve as simply as possible! Encourage others to take action and help out where they can. Inform others of your achievement and use the change that you’ve made wisely. You live in a democratic society and belong to a democratic members’ organisation. Use your elected representatives in both.


Parish Council /
County Council /
District Council /
MPs /
(MEPs) /
Ministers /

YFC Democracy

YFC Club - contact your county organiser for further information

YFC County

YFC Area html - YFC area chairman guide

NFYFC html – structure of NFYFC Council

Other Useful Contacts

The Citizenship Foundation website incorporates the Youth Act project which supports groups of 11–18 year-olds to identify issues of concern to young people and their communities and to develop campaigns to tackle them.

The UK Youth Parliament may be of interest for 11-18 year olds

The Sheila McKechnie Young Campaigners Awards Programme provides bespoke support to new or emerging campaigners who want to become more effective.

National Farmers Union (NFU)

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) champions British farming and provides professional representation and services to more than 60,000 farmers and growers. It offers NFYFC a place for a YFC representative to observe the business of its National Council and free membership to all YFC members aged between 16-21 – see to receive a welcome pack and password which allows access to the member’s area.

Company: Agriculture & Rural Affairs/Agriculture/Organisations/NFU/NFU 2009/’How to make a difference’ guide