23 July 2021

BIHR’s round-up of the week's top human rights news, from BIHR and beyond...

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News from BIHR

Our work with people accessing services

Last year, BIHR secured funding to offer free human rights sessions to people accessing, or trying to access, public services, and their loved ones and carers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The purpose of these sessions was to equip people with knowledge about human rights which they could then use in their interactions with public services and hopefully achieve positive change in their lives. In April, we invited small, community organisations to apply for our final 10 free human rights sessions. We received applications from lots of fantastic organisations and  selected 10 of them – you can find more information about these organisations here

This week we delivered three of these free human rights workshops to people accessing, or trying to access, public services. The first was on Monday with Friends, Families and Travellers, which works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. The second workshop was on Tuesday with Cheshire Disabled People’s Panel, a coalition of disabled people’s organisations working to ensure that disabled people’s rights are understood and upheld locally. And our final workshop of the week was on Thursday with Dates-n-Mates Scotland, Scotland’s national dating and friendship agency run by and for people with learning disabilities...

Our work with community and advocacy groups

On 1 July, BIHR ran an open access workshop with a host of community and voluntary groups across the UK. The workshop was a space for groups to share their experiences using human rights in their work and discuss their ideas about what human rights support they need. BIHR will be selecting 4 groups to work with longer term to co-develop a human rights “solution”, but if there is a lot of demand, we can use what people tell us to apply for more funding and hopefully work with more organisations in future. The deadline for applications was 15 July, BIHR are now working to select partners from those who applied. There’s more information about this project on our website. Please email Eilidh Turnbull on [email protected] with any questions.

This week we invited human rights organisations from across the UK to a meeting to discuss how this work can support wider human rights community work.

Our work with public services

Last week we launched a new CAMHS human rights programme funded by NHS England. This project focuses on building staff knowledge and capacity to positively and proactively uphold human rights when supporting children and young people with mental health issues. This is alongside support for young people, their families, carers, supporters and advocates to raise their concerns with services not simply as a matter of what is right, but what is legal, to self-advocate and find practical solutions. We know from our work with staff, young people, families, supporters and advocates that meaningful change can be achieved, shifting power, by putting human rights at the heart of these everyday discussions and decisions in mental health services. Find out more here.

Today, 23 July, is the deadline for applications for our Lived Experience Expert Consultant roles. You can find out more here.

We’re continuing with our longer-term human rights learning programmes, this week delivering a workshop as part of a 12-month capacity building programme for staff working in adult social care in Wakefield.

Our policy work

  • Judicial Review and Courts Bill: On 21 July the government published the Judicial Review and Courts Bill. This is the next step in the government’s reforms of Judicial Review, after a public consultation was completed last summer by the Independent Review of Administrative Law panel. You can read BIHR’s response to this consultation here.
  • Mental Health Act Reform: Last week the government published its response to the public consultation on the Mental Health Act. You can read their response here. BIHR responded to this consultation back in April 2021 - read our Easy Read and full response here. We are thinking about what the government has said in their response and we continue to advocate for human rights to be respected and protected while people are receiving support for their mental health.
  • Independent Human Rights Act Review: On 23 June, BIHR facilitated a roundtable discussion jointly with Liberty which was attended by members of the IHRAR Panel. The Panel listened to ten people with lived experience of using the Human Rights Act in their lives, including parent-carers, self-advocates and staff working in health and social care. The minutes from this meeting and testimonies from the ten people who talked to the panel are available to view on the IHRAR website. Watch this space for more information from BIHR about the roundtable and its impact.
  • Government consultations research: BIHR is carrying out some research about government consultations because we have concerns about how they are being run at the moment. We’re not convinced a human rights-based approach which ensures participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and legality is being taken. Our research will compare government consultation approaches across the four nations.  You can find a Twitter thread with some of our initial findings here, but our research is ongoing and later this year we will want to hear from others about their experiences of government consultations. If anyone is interested in being involved in this research, they can register their interest here.
  • House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee published their report on the treatment of autistic people and people with learning disabilities on Monday 13 July. The report is clear that this is a human rights crisis that needs addressed urgently. There is not currently an Easy Read version of the report. Last week, BIHR created an Easy Read summary of the key contents and recommendations which you can read here. 

News from Elsewhere

Equality and Human Rights Commission launches inquiry into challenging decisions about adult social care

This week the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an inquiry into the experiences of older and disabled adults and unpaid carers in challenging decisions made by local councils about social care and support in England and Wales.

They want to understand whether existing ways of challenging are accessible and effective; whether people are given enough information about their rights to care and support; whether people can access advocacy when they need to challenge decisions; and whether local councils learn from being challenged to improve their services in future. You can respond to their survey here – this is open until 15 September 2021.

Care Act easements officially come to an end

Provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 allowing councils to suspend parts of the Care Act 2014 have finally been removed from the statute books, four months after the government’s decisions to do so.

The Care Act is a law in England. The relaxation of the Care Act allowed councils to suspend duties to assess people’s needs, complete financial assessments, and make support plans, unless doing so would breach human rights. You can read more from BIHR about the Care Act easements here.

Community Care

Northern Ireland assembly rejects UK government proposal for ‘statute of limitations’ on the Troubles

Last week the UK government proposed an amnesty on all criminal prosecutions linked to killings during the Troubles which would prevent prosecutions of either former British soldiers or former paramilitaries. This week, Members of the Legislative Assembly in Stormont rejected these proposals on the basis that they “do not serve the interests, needs, wishes or needs of victims and survivors nor the requirements of truth, justice, accountability, acknowledgement and reconciliation.”

Irish Legal News

Undocumented migrants blocked from booking Covid vaccinations

An investigation by The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that many undocumented migrants face being blocked from booking their Covid vaccinations because GP surgeries won't register them. This is in breach of official guidance produced by NHS England which states that documentation, including ID and proof of address, are not required when registering with a GP.

The Independent

Disabled UK teenager mounts legal challenge after benefits cut off

Cameron Mitchell, 19, and his mother are hoping to overturn a decision by the Department for Work and Pensions to suspend his disability benefits while he was in hospital for a life-threatening infection. They are arguing that the rule on benefits is discriminatory and breaches Cameron's human rights.

The Guardian

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