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Community work

Free Human Rights Workshops

Throughout 2020 and 2021, we ran free sessions for people accessing (or trying to access) public services, their loved ones and those who care for them – and the organisations supporting people. These sessions aimed to build the capacity of people to use human rights law in interactions with public services and tackle social justice issues affecting them during incredibly challenging times.

After the success of this pilot programme, we're pleased to be running a new round of Awareness-Raising Workshops for communities in 2023.

How we ran these workshops

We received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Tudor Trust, the Bromley TrustComic Relief (Covid fund) and the Three Guineas Trust. We started by delivering 27 workshops to 16 different organisations, including:

  • Disability Wales – we looked how human rights are protected in Wales and what it means when accessing care and support during Covid-19 and beyond.
  • Learning Disability England – we looked at human rights and visiting policies, supporting people to raise human rights challenges.
  • Scottish Autism – we supported people, loved ones and parents to know more about human rights, particularly the right to education and the right to family life.
  • Reducing Restraint Network – we looked at human rights and social distancing.
  • Tide – we supported Tide unpaid carers with separate sessions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to understand their rights, particularly in home care provision.
  • Inclusion Gloucestershire – we supported people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities to know their rights and use them to create change in their lives.
  • Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living – we ran a BSL interpreted session to support people to use human rights to challenge local policies, we focused on personal assistants/loved ones being able to join health care appointments during Covid19. 
  • Croydon Mencap – we supported people with learning disabilities and/or autism, loved ones and carers to know more about human rights, particularly the right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to family life.
  • Bromley & Croydon Women's Aid Coffee Morning - we supported a women's group to know more about the rights of people who have experienced domestic abuse, and showed them our new tool to support people with this.

Then, in May 2021, we invited community groups and organisations to apply for our 10 final workshop spaces. We were thrilled to hear from 34 groups in total, hailing from all over the UK, across the public, private and voluntary sector, and supporting people in a variety of situations, from people experiencing homelessness, to carers for people living with dementia.

We carefully selected 10 new partner organisations from across the UK:

  1. The Alliance for Inclusive Education
  2. Bristol Somali Resource Centre
  3. Cheshire Disabled People’s Panel
  4. dates-n-mates Scotland
  5. Friends, Families and Travellers
  6. HERe NI
  7. Northern Ireland Refugee and Asylum Seeker Women’s Association (Bomoko NI)
  8. Rock Trust
  9. Silverline Memories
  10. Welsh Refugee Council

These organisations support a range of different people and groups, including refugees and people seeking asylum; LGBTQ+ people; people with disabilities and their loved ones; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities; and young people with experience of homelessness.

Over the summer, BIHR ran 10 bespoke human rights workshops alongside these wonderful organisations. In total, 159 people attended the workshops, building their knowledge and confidence to talk about their human rights when supporting people accessing or trying to access public services. Knowledge is power!

The impact

Facts, figures and feedback from our final 10 workshops:

159

people attended workshops across 10 partner organisations working in various areas

4/5

Participants described their level of knowledge of human rights law in the UK as 4/5 after the workshop versus 2.6/5 before.

4.3/5

Participants described their confidence using human rights when talking to staff in services as 4.3/5 after the workshop versus 3.2/5 before.

We're so pleased our partner organisations found our free sessions engaging, supportive and valuable.

Carers Scotland Workshop Participant

"It is essential you go to this session as you will learn valuable information in your role as a carer in securing your rights."

Scottish Autism Workshop Participant

"In terms of advocacy support, the session provided snowballs for parents to throw!"

Disability Wales Workshop Participant

"Do it even if you don't think you have the time, you'll likely learn something you didn't know."

Rock Trust Workshop Participant

"This session made me realise we can all ensure human rights are respected, and I have the power to challenge public authorities when they are now!

Dates-n-Mates Workshop Participant

"Many attendees went on to think about how they can protect their human rights in their own lives after relating to some of the examples in the workshops."

Our partners

Everyone at BIHR would like to say a massive thank you to our funders, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Tudor Trust, the Bromley TrustComic Relief (Covid fund) and the Three Guineas Trust, without whom this important work would not have been possible.

And thank you to our partner organisations for sharing your time, ideas and experiences with us, all of which helped bring these human rights workshops to life.

The future of these workshops

The aim of this project was to support people accessing, or trying to access, public services, as well as their loved ones and those who care about them, to know about and use human rights in their conversations with public officials.

The data gathered across all 10 groups we worked with evidences that the knowledge and confidence of attendees in using human rights increased significantly. These workshops were delivered at a time when the aftershocks of the pandemic were still being keenly felt. Having lived through this period where we have seen human rights put at risk, supporting people to recognise where human rights are relevant, and use them to create positive change in their lives and the lives of their loved ones, has never been more important.

We are committed to continuing to support people and their communities to know about their human rights and have the confidence to talk about and advocate for their rights in everyday situations where they interact with public bodies.

We are now pleased to be able to run a new round of Awareness-Raising Workshops in 2023.

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