Our work with public bodies (and those delivering a public function)

The Human Rights Act (and the European Convention on Human Rights) puts a legal duty on public bodies (and those delivering a public function) to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. 

BIHR works with public bodies to build their capacity to ensure human rights are protected in policy and practice. Our support helps public bodies to increase their accountability in protecting human rights in everything they do, every day. 

We support public bodies in lots of different ways. We run long term programmatic work with Local Authorities, NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups addressing whole systems change. We also offer blocks of capacity building and policy review work as well as 2 hour online training sessions for up to 50 staff members. 


If your organisation, service or team would like to discuss working with us please contact Carlyn Miller on [email protected] 

Our work with public bodies during the pandemic

During Covid-19 we have seen a huge increase in the demand for our work with public bodies and those delivering a function of public nature.

We believe this is a result of unclear UK wide legislation changes and an overload of new Guidance without the necessary support or clarity for public bodies to implement these according to human rights law.

The Coronavirus Act states clearly that any changes made by public bodies during this time must be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.  

We have adapted to be able to support to public bodies and their officials to do this in 3 important ways:

1. Open human rights sessions for people who work in health and care

We are hosting online open sessions for people working in health and social care across the UK.

These last for 2 hours and are a chance for staff working in the health and social care sector who haven't had training commissioned by their organisation to find out more about upholding human rights during Covid-19. 

We are currently seeking funding to enable us to deliver these open sessions more regularly, and to develop information resources for staff in a variety of different roles and sectors. 

2. Bespoke human rights sessions for public bodies or those delivering a public function

Over the past 11 weeks, we have been contacted by public bodies across the UK looking for support to ensure practice during Covid-19 is compatible with Human Rights law.  

We've worked with each public body individually to create a 2 hour session which is bespoke to their staff or management team. As standard we include;

  1. An introduction to Human Rights law
  2. Changes to legislation as a result of the Coronavirus Act (Option to choose specific legislation to cover in detail here (for example, Care Act changes if you're a LA in England or Wales) or a more broad overview). 
  3. Applying the Human Rights Act in practice (We have a bank of real stories or LA's can submit any real practical issues they are facing and we create these as case study activities and support staff to work through these using the human rights framework. 
  4. A final prioritisation exercise (How can staff use a human rights framework to prioritise care and support). 

As part of these sessions we evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data and share that with out partner orgs.  Real examples below:


If your organisation, service or team would like to discuss the possibility of a bespoke session please contact Carlyn Miller on [email protected] 

3. Providing clear information on legal changes and what they mean

We have created an online Hub which contains Explainers on all of the legal changes as a result of the Coronavirus Act. The Hub covers the changes across all 4 nations of the UK. These Explainers make clear what the changes are and whether these are 'switched on' or not. 

You can access all of these Explainers and download them as pdfs here. 

You can also access our downloadable resources produced before Coronavirus, remembering that the duties on frontline services to respect and protect human rights haven't changed. Our resources are available here.


Communities of Practice

What happens after Human Rights capacity building for public bodies?

We recognise that after learning more about their human rights legal duties, staff and management feel energised to translate this knowledge into practice and that always comes alongside an ask for continued support from us at BIHR. The more you know, the more you feel you need to know. 

We also recognise that public service budgets often mean that long term programmes of human rights capacity building work are not possible. 

We are now in the initial stages of setting up Communities of Practice. 

 An online platform where as a public official you can:

1. Access our resources and information and find out about further training. We will also be holding Q&A sessions with BIHR staff.

2. Discuss, share best practice and create change with other public officials doing similar work 

3. Share your expert experience with us. This will inform what we tell those in positions of power about the                                  human rights issues you are faced with in your practice.

If you'd like to be involved, answer these quick questions and give us your name and email address here.  

Human Rights of Staff during the Covid-19 situation 

In our work with staff over the past few weeks we have noticed two things:

1-That public officials during the most difficult of times are seeking out training to ensure that they uphold human rights in everything they do.

2- That every single question asked by a staff member has been about another person’s human rights, never their own.

So our Policy and Programmes Manger Carlyn has put together a blog on the human rights of staff during the Covid-19 situation. 

Read the blog here.