MLAs are elected representatives. They represent the people who voted for them and all those who live in their constituency.
They take the views of their constituents into account when making laws and holding Executive Ministers to account. They put those views forward at every opportunity - when making speeches and voting in the Chamber on proposed new laws and when discussing issues in committee meetings.
MLAs need to have regular contact with people in their constituency in order to hear those views. Every MLA has at least one office in their constituency, where they can meet people. On Fridays, there are no meetings in Parliament Buildings, so MLAs can dedicate the whole day to constituency work.
An MLA may set aside a particular time to hold a ‘surgery’ to help people resolve problems. They will contact the right people or organisations on behalf of constituents, or advise constituents or groups of constituents on what they might do, eg, how to start a campaign on an issue. MLAs attend lots of events in the constituency, often in the evenings or at weekends. They will lobby Ministers to act on issues of concern in the constituency. As well as face-to-face meetings, MLAs will communicate with constituents by letter, phone, email and social media.
Most MLAs are elected as members of political parties and represent the views of their party, as set out in the election manifesto. They will have joined the party because they share its views on how Northern Ireland should be run. MLAs will keep their party informed of the views of their constituents which may help shape the party's manifesto for the next election.