What’s the role of human rights in a period of cut backs to public services? What is the role of human rights in protecting the vulnerable? Do human rights offer an effective tool for people wishing to challenge the impact of service cuts or changes? How do we make sure we balance one person’s rights against the interests of society as a whole?
These are the questions at the heart of a National Human Rights Tour by the British Institute of Human Rights. There will be 16 free-to-attend events taking place across the UK between September and December 2011. The full list of destinations is:
Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, London, Manchester, Mold (North Wales), Newcastle, Norwich, Oxford, Plymouth, Scotland (2 events TBC), Sheffield.Full information about dates, locations, and booking is available at the end of this message. Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment and please forward this information to your colleagues, friends and networks.
The significant changes currently taking place to our public services, which are being cut back, redrawn, or commissioned out to other providers, raises fundamental questions about what human rights mean in our society and what role human rights can play in tackling these changes.
What are human rights?
Human rights protect individuals from the worst excesses and arbitrariness of state power. They are meant to ensure that no-one finds themselves completely abandoned or exploited by society. As well as playing a critical role in respecting and protecting our human rights, governments must also promote and fulfil them. In other words human rights are not just there for when things go wrong, but exist to stop things going wrong. Human rights have a very positive vision which is to enshrine in law the fundamental worth and dignity of all human beings and ensure everyone is helped to reach their full potential.
Understanding how human rights work
Human rights are often both misrepresented and misunderstood, and they themselves appear to be at risk of being cut back. BIHR’s experience shows that human rights play an important role for the most vulnerable members of society - and for society as a whole. We have seen this over many years through our work with organisations and individuals. Sadly, these ‘everyday stories’ rarely reach the headlines. What’s more, we don’t believe human rights are utilised enough because people and organisations know little about how to use them. BIHR believes that until people are aware of their human rights and how they work, human rights - and the Human Rights Act - will continue to be underutilised. The media reporting also needs to be put in context. It is often wrong, inaccurate or misleading and rarely is the full story told.
With all of this in mind, we are taking human rights on tour to 16 cities throughout the UK between September and December 2011.
Issues addressed by the events:
The programme in each area may differ slightly. This is because each event will have a regional focus addressing issues specific to the particular city / region. The following list is given as an example of the kind of issues we will address in different regions.
a) Human rights: myths and realityThe events will occupy the best part of a day and will probably consist of four sessions broken up by coffee-breaks and a lunch break.
b) Making practical use of human rights
- What are human rights, where do they come from, why are they important?
- Why are they necessary in this country?
- Do they protect the villains or the victims of society (or both)!?
- Does the media get it right?
c) Linking today’s political changes with human rights
- Which issues are covered by the Human Rights Act?
- How the Human Rights Act works – and how individuals can make use of it
- Examples of using the Human Rights Act to protect the most vulnerable
d) Working together to protect human rights
- How do the cuts, NHS reform, changes in legal aid – and other issues – relate to human rights?
- What does the ‘Big Society’ mean for human rights?
- What are the key issues in this region – and can the Human Rights Act be used to address them?
- How can we ensure that the protections offered by the Human Rights Act are not weakened?
- How can we ensure that the Human Rights Act is better known and better used?
- How can BIHR support and sustain local initiatives to promote and protect human rights – and vice versa?
The events will adopt a workshop format: the sessions will be interactive and facilitated towards giving participants the chance to air their views and discuss the issues. Additional input will be provided by BIHR and other speakers.
Timing and programme
The events will occupy the best part of a day and will probably consist of four sessions broken up by coffee-breaks and a lunch break. The day will run from about 10am to 4pm.
Dates and locations
For more information about venues, and to sign up to receive a notification email for the small number of cities that are not yet confirmed, please follow this link.
Six road shows are being funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) through BIHR’s ‘Human Rights in the Community Project’. These are Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Manchester, Newcastle, and Sheffield. They will follow a similar agenda with the addition of specific information on the community project, input from the official partner, EREN, and presentations from participating pilot organisations. For more information about this project follow this link.
When will we be in your area?
Dates and locations for Scotland, likely to be two events, and Belfast, are still TBA. You may sign up to a mailing list that will enable us to notify you as soon as the date and venue are confirmed. You can access this mailing list by following this link.
Location Venue Date
Belfast TBA TBA
Birmingham The Friends Institute, 220 Moseley Road, Highgate, Birmingham B12 0DG 29th September.
Brighton Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XG 18th October
Bristol St Werburghs Centre, Bristol, Horley Road, BS2 9TJ 15th September
Cardiff Cardiff County Hall 17th November
Derby YMCA Derbyshire, London Road, Wilmorton, Derby, DE24 8UT 27th September
London Amnesty International UK, The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA 13th December
Manchester St Thomas Centre, Ardwick Green North, Manchester, M12 6FZ 8th September
Mold, North Wales “Alyn & Deeside Room”, Flintshire County Council/Cyngor Sir y Fflint County 9th November
Newcastle West End Women and Girls Centre, Stephenson Building, 173 Elswick Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 6SQ 4th October
Norwich The King's Centre, Norwich. 1st November
Oxford North Oxford Association, Community Centre, Diamond Place, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7DP 13th September
Plymouth Plymouth Guild Hall, Royal Parade, Plymouth 21st November
Scotland TBA TBA
Sheffield The Circle, 33 Rockingham Lane, Sheffield, Yorkshire, S1 4FW 13th October
Places are limited so please book early! We will take up to three representatives from an organisation until we have a clearer idea of numbers but there may be a possibility to take more, so please indicate on the booking form if this would be of interest to you.
Please note that in order to make the National Human Rights Tour possible, each event is likely to be BYOL - Bring Your Own Lunch. We will provide final confirmation of this nearer to the time.
Please note that you will not be able to attend without having booked on in advance. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries about the National Human Rights Tour.
To book onto one of these free-to-attend events please follow this link.