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27 December 2016

The 4 practical ways to improve the world in 2017

There's a lot to be done. 

By Julia Rampen

The bad news? If you thought 2016 was a shocker, 2017 is when we actually start Brexit negotiations, Donald Trump actually gets the nuclear codes, and Labour might actually have to fight an election. 

The good news? It hasn’t started yet, so you might still get to do something about it.

The Staggers asked politicians for the most practical ways to make a difference in 2017. Here is what they said.

1. Campaign on immigration

Shadow Home secretary Diane Abbott has been a lone voice in 2016 on the benefits of immigration. In 2017, her office tells us, she would like to see more people join the campaign to take international students out of migration statistics (at the moment they are part of the migration target).

This isn’t just simply because of the hefty fees they contribute to academic coffers, but because of “what it says about the direction we’re going in as a country and how open we want to be”. 

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You can contact your MP, get involved in university campaigns or sign a petition like this one here.

2. Volunteer

Labour MP Graham Jones tells us:  “I think we should help Great Britain PLC. It’s not about giving to any particular charity, it’s getting off your backside and volunteering for any one of them.”

You can check out volunteering opportunities here

3. Donate to a research charity here…

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale tells us about a medical challenge that is very close to her heart:

“I would urge people to do what they can to raise money to help find a cure for motor neurone disease.

“I have watched on helplessly as this horrible disease slowly kills one of my closest friends, Gordon Aikman. I donate the money from a weekly newspaper column I write to support those with MND and to invest in research for a cure.

“This isn’t just about Gordon. As he has said himself, any major medical advances will be too late for him. But investing in MND research now can help find a cure for the patients of the future.”

Labour MP Jamie Reed also asks that you consider the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is looking into a Type 1 Diabetes cure, while Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael recommends Brain Tumour Research

4. …And human rights abroad

With dog whistle politics in Europe and the US, and plain old bombardment of civilians in the Middle East, it’s not been a great year for human rights. 

“If human rights are your thing then Reprieve should deserve some of your time, money and attention in 2017,” says Carmichael. “I initially got involved with them through their campaigning against the death penalty.  

“Their work goes beyond that, however, and they have also  take a lead in campaigning for those held in Guantanamo Bay and against the use of drones as a tool of extra-judicial killing.”

Reed also recommends donating to the White Helmets, the humanitarian organisation rescuing Syrians from warzones. 

This December, the New Statesman is joining with Lumos to raise money to help institutionalised children in Haiti return to family life. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, funds are needed to help those who have become separated from their families. Make a donation at bit.ly/lumosns.