At BIHR when we are discussing our favourite parts of our jobs, without fail, one person will say “the lightbulb moments”. These are the moments when a person we are working with, whether it be a member of a community group, a social worker or a person accessing services, makes that connection between human rights and their lives or the work they do every day.

Ensuring Rights Are Upheld During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Usually, we travel up and down the country supporting community groups, the voluntary and public sectors, to deliver a culture of respect for human rights across the UK. Much of our work is face to face, it is important for us to be with the people we are supporting. Training (along with mentoring, coaching, practice reviews and policy development) is one of the tools we use.  Our face to face human rights training is often where those light bulbs first start. We move human rights from the law books to everyday life using real examples and a practical human rights based approach.  Given the current circumstances we cannot, of course, do any more face to face trainings.

However, this is a time that many of us find ourselves in an unfamiliar (or familiar) position of vulnerability, and the emphasis is on keeping safe. It is vital that we can be assured safety includes the protection of our dignity and not losing the rules of fairness and respect in the way power is used to respond to this situation. Human Rights should be the framework for ensuring that any actions taken in response to Covid-19 are kept lawful and maintain a human element. Our mission to ensure social justice through human rights does not change as a result of Covid-19, in fact it becomes even more necessary. However, we have had to give a lot of thought about how we can do this when we can no longer work face to face with people, communities, public officials and policy makers. We have come up with a plan to ensure rights are upheld during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Bringing the Lightbulb Moments Online

Part of this plan is to develop and deliver online human rights training. This was a new thing for us, how could we have those “lightbulb moments” in an online setting? Well, we thought about how we do this in our face-to-face training. We talk about the relevant laws in a way that is accessible for everyone. We use practical examples and real life stories to show how we can apply a human rights framework to our everyday decisions and how we can use human rights to challenge decisions that affect our lives (or the lives of those who we care for and support).

 We (like a large portion on the UK working population at the moment) have had to quickly get acquainted with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and talking to a computer screen. We wanted to maintain the interactive element to our sessions so we have included discussion activities where people can share their views using the chat bar or microphones. We have found that we can still have real and important discussion even when we are all sitting in different rooms in different homes throughout the country.

Upcoming Trainings

See all our up coming online sessions here: https://www.bihr.org.uk/Pages/Events/

We are really pleased that we can provide human rights information to both the staff members who are facing new and increasing difficult decisions and the people who may be affected by these decisions. We are planning a lot more sessions in the future. We hope to secure funding so that these sessions can reach the people that need this information.

Training Social Workers

Last week we trained over 100 social work staff on UK human rights laws, the Coronavirus Act and what this all means for social work practice. After ironing out the first initial technological hiccups we were soon having those lightbulb moments as staff discussed applying human rights frameworks to their everyday decision making.

We also learnt a lot about the reality of the type of decisions that frontline staff are facing at the moment, which we will continue to use to inform our training sessions in the future.

It was clear from the feedback that the participants also got a lot from the training:

“Clear, principled training which reminds us why we do the job we do”

 “Excellent session - well thought through and really relevant to the challenges faced by practitioners at the moment.”

“Essential training for those having to sustain practice which supports human rights in the presence of reduced resources related or unrelated to COVID-19.”

Bespoke Training

We have had various requests for bespoke courses, such as the one designed for a social work team. Organisations can send us through the challenges they face and we will create the requested content to be delivered as a 2 hour session directly to a team of staff. If you’re interested in discussing a session of this kind, contact our Policy and Programmes manager, Carlyn on [email protected].