Human Rights and Local Government

"We should be confident about the role of local government in strengthening and defending human rights for all."

Project participant, Local Government Improvement and Development
The Human Rights and Local Government project is an innovative initiative that aims to test out a human rights approach to the work of local government. It is led by Local Government Improvement and Development (LGI&D) and BIHR, and works with five local authorities across England. These five local authorities are testing out how human rights principles and standards can support improvements in a specific area of service provision. 
The five local authorities involved in the project are:

Hackney Council

Hackney Council is working within their Adult Social Care department to build on the success of their Dignity Project. BIHR trained their 40 Dignity Champions, including service users, in human rights and the group decided to become ‘Human Rights with Dignity’ Champions (pictured). They have incorporated human rights into their Dignity Audit tool. Hackney has also worked with key stakeholders across the Council and a number of their independent providers to raise their awareness of human rights and what it means in practice. Follow this link to read a case study on Hackney Council's project.
"The Human Rights Act empowers us to challenge undignified treatment. There is real power in framing dignity in terms of rights."
Human Rights with Dignity Champion, Hackney Council

Herefordshire Council  

Herefordshire Council is focusing on how a human rights approach could broaden the way equality work was approached in the county, enabling a move away from a ‘tick box’ approach. They have worked in partnership with NHS Herefordshire to produce an Equality and Human Rights Charter which created a single set of underlying principles, commitments, and values for both organisations. This Charter forms the basis for taking human rights work forward and they will be developing a tailored human rights and equality training package to communicate the vision of the Charter to all staff.

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

London Borough of Tower Hamlets is working to improve the way they work with people who have no recourse to public funds. Through a participative process with local third sector organisations and different teams within the Council they are creating a set of human rights based guidelines to underpin their support and services to people with no recourse.

Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire County Council is working with their Best Interest Assessors, who safeguard vulnerable adults under the Mental Capacity Act, to support them to become Human Rights Champions across the Council. They are developing a training package on human rights for the Assessors to use in their teams.
‘Human rights are really relevant, especially to the way that we treat our service-users. This project has given us an opportunity to reflect on our work.’
Project participant, Oxfordshire County Council

Wiltshire County Council

Wiltshire County Council is focusing on implementing a human rights approach in three areas of their Community Services department, including a social inclusion community project, their equality impact assessment process and adult social care program. BIHR has provided training to staff and key stakeholders in each area and they are reviewing their work to better and more explicitly highlight human rights issues.

Learning event 

We held an event in November 2010 which brought together the five local authorities and the project advisory group to share learning so far. All of the local authorities have taken a different approach to putting human rights into practice which led to fruitful learning and interesting debates. We also explored some of the key current issues and challenges in embedding human rights and equalities in local government and discussed what we needed to do next to push this agenda forward. Follow this link to download the report.
For more information on this project please contact Ed Wilcox at
BIHR provides training for local authorities on human rights. Find out more >>


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