We’re thrilled to announce that BIHR has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Supporter category for the 2019 National Advocacy Awards. The Awards recognise excellence within advocacy and congratulate exceptional contributions to the field of advocacy. BIHR is a national independent charity, with an office based at The School of Law, QMUL (find out more about our relationship with the university, here).

We are incredibly pleased to be nominated because supporting people to use human rights to strengthen (self-) advocacy, ensuring that people are treated with dignity, is what we're all about. At BIHR we aim for the light bulb moments - when people make the connection between human rights and the work they do every day. We move human rights from the law books to everyday life, supporting groups and agencies to develop practical human rights approaches to the way people interact with public services. From this we have a wealth of evidence, over 50 impact stories of how using human rights practically can positively change people’s lives, transforming organisations and communities. Our experience has shown that advocates can use human rights as a tool for creating real change, providing practical ways to come to rights respecting solutions.

We were nominated by n|compass advocacy in Northwest England, for our work to support them to use the Human Rights Act as a social change tool. They noted:

 “BIHR have contributed to and improved the standards of advocacy through their work for over 15 years. Through various projects, they have worked alongside advocacy organisations and frontline advocates to help us make a real difference to the protection and promotion of people’s human rights through our advocacy work…It is incredible to think that BIHR achieve what they do with a small team of just 6 dedicated members of staff. The amount of people they have helped to protect and promote their human rights when using public services through supporting advocacy and advocacy organisations is insurmountable. All of us here at n|compass Advocacy Service believe the work they do in support of advocacy and improving standards within the sector help us, and many others, to make advocacy successful by providing support to our partners through the lens of human rights and that this is an intrinsic part of all our work.”

Supporting advocacy

This year we have been supporting advocates and self-advocates in communities across the country, working together in Blackpool, Preston, Oxfordshire, Newcastle, York, Surrey, London, Sheffield, Bangor, Nottingham, and Cardiff, to name a few! You can read about some of our recent projects with advocacy groups here and with self-advocates, families and carers here.

In July we launched our new online website www.knowyourhumanrights.co.uk which was developed with and for people with mental capacity or mental health issues. Supporting them (and their advocates) to know their human rights and raise these through advocacy with staff. We were thrilled to be working with our advocacy friends such as n|compass and many others to develop our new online tool.

Changing lives

We have already heard some amazing stories from people using Know Your Human Rights in real life. Such as the advocate who used it to help stop an older couple being split up in different care homes. Or the mother who used the tool to help her write a letter of complaint about her disabled son's treatment and placement in Assessment and Treatment Units 100s of miles from home. He is now back living in the community with support, in their hometown.

Our evaluations show that a human rights approach to advocacy works. Attendees from sessions we delivered to self-advocates with learning disabilities told us:

“This has given me really useful language to use to make effective challenges”

“Understanding what human rights means enables the people I work with to challenge and live the life they want”

“This session made me feel much more confident to challenge by using law language” 

      

Speaking about the nomination, BIHR’s Director, Sanchita Hosali said:

“Working with advocates, supporting them to use human rights a practical tool that enables people to be heard and change their lives for the better, is central to our work at BIHR. Facilitating human rights advocacy in communities across the country is vital to our mission to bring human rights to life for people in their everyday lives; so we really are thrilled to have been shortlisted for The Outstanding Supporter Advocacy Award, we are amongst a great group of fellow nominees. We are excited to see who will win on Award Night! But whatever the outcome we look forward to continuing our work with advocates and self-advocates, supporting them to use the power of human rights to strengthen the amazing jobs that they do every day, making human rights have meaning in all those small places close to home (to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt!).” 

Image: BIHR Policy and Programmes Manager Patrick with Advocates and Self-Advocates from Inclusion North and Sunderland People First