Human Rights in the Community Project


Why Human Rights in the Community?

The Human Rights in the Community Project (2010-2013) aimed to take human rights out of the courtrooms and into the heart of our communities. We know from our work at BIHR that the simple fact of knowing about human rights can have a real impact on the ground; but too few people know about their rights or how rights can be useful. The Human Rights in the Community Project sought to bridge this gap between knowing human rights are relevant to your work, and not knowing enough about them to practically apply them in everyday work.
The highlights of the project are set out below. For more information, including case studies and people’s real life stories download your of Make Human Rights Happen  

So what did we do?

We took two approaches firstly working intensively with a small number of organisations and explore how human rights could help them in their work. Secondly we worked to get knowledge and information about human rights out to the ‘community en masse’.


One-to-one project-based activities

We developed a work programme with each of the pilot projects, looking at the work they were already doing, and how they could use human rights to make that work better.
Working with Arcadea in North East England we looked at using creative arts to help disabled people understand and apply their human rights in everyday life. This included:

  • Human rights related art work featured in an exhibition at Newcastle’s famous Life Centre
  • Working with SYMO (a film production company run by and for disabled people) to make a number of films about human rights with a group of disabled people, which you view on our YouTube Channel
  • Making human rights bunting, which BIHR took on the Human Rights Tour 2012.


Katy Saunderson, General Manager at Arcadea says

“Arcadea’s involvement in the Human Rights in the Community Project has been an incredibly valuable experience. Knowledge of the Human Rights Act is a useful tool that has allowed us to advise and inform the people we work with in a far broader sense than we used to…Human rights are particularly important to this sector as disabled people can all too often find themselves marginalised or overlooked. Knowledge of their rights has been key in giving people the confidence to voice their concerns, along with providing a language that allows these concerns to be communicated effectively.”
Working with N-compass, an advocacy service for carers in the North-West England, BIHR build the capacity and confidence of staff, advocates and carers to understand the Human  Rights Act and using human rights language in discussions with service providers to advocate for better services. This lead to:

  • Increased human rights-based arguments used by N-compass advocates to challenge issues such reductions in services for disabled people
  • A consultation with carers which identified a need for accessible information on human rights specifically for carers. Responding to this need, together we produced our hugely popular Your Human Rights: A Pocket Guide for Carers

Dawn Parkinson Strategy Director at N-compass says “It has been really valuable for us to be part of this project…I think human rights are so important to the sector we work in as they provide a legal framework to use in our day to day work. They provide weight and substance as we challenge and question the decisions of professionals on behalf of our clients, it means that we are taken seriously and enables us to advocate more effectively on behalf of our clients.”


Human rights outreach to the community “en masse”!

We did this by developing our hugely successful Human Rights Tour, a series of free events across the UK to raise awareness of human rights and how they are relevent in everyday situations. This project was able to support a number of Tour events in 2011 and 2012 when we visited 16 towns and cities over 16 weeks to raise awareness of the 16 rights in the Human Rights Act.The Tour has been a real success story and we plan to continue taking human rights on tour  after the project finishes. You can


What does the project show?

The Human Rights in the Community Project shows the difference human rights can make to people’s lives. We have encountered so many inspiring community organisations, who are working in often difficult circumstances, where human rights has had a small but lasting impact on the work they do. We have also learnt human rights are more relevant now than they have ever been. Often people assume that human rights are an ‘added extra’ that falls off the agenda when there are other battles to be fought; but the Community project has illustrated that this is precisely when human rights are most useful. They can become part of the toolbox to fight some of these battles!
The Community project has also confirmed for us that these changes don’t happen overnight. The project has highlighted how human rights are not a quick fix to systemic problems, they can make a real and lasting difference but this difference may be subtle and it may take time.

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