#16cities arrived in York with mixed emotions – our final Tour event! We are overwhelmed by what an amazing journey it has been and it definitely ended on a high.
Lars Waldorf from the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York opened this event by talking about how they are in the midst of running a human rights festival at the moment to try and turn York into a ‘human rights city’! This has definitely inspired the Tour team – watch this space. There have been lots of events in York over the first two weeks of December; attempting to increase the outreach and impact of human rights in the community.
As always, we had a wide range of friendly delegates in the room, including people from the prison services, Racial Equality, the Carers Forum, the University of York’s Amnesty Club, LGBT forums, a refuge centre and women’s theatre companies. One particularly impressive attendee seemed to work for several different organisations – she is taking the job of safeguarding human rights very seriously indeed! After Lars’ introduction we launched into our human rights slideshow and an introduction to human rights law. There was a mixed knowledge of human rights and the Human Rights Act in the room which created a great environment for information exchange.
The #16cities Tour team have written a bumper-blog for both London events, packed full of information, stories and news, so let’s get started. A special mention must go out to the event at Conway Hall on Friday 7 December as it was the final national event for BIHR’s ‘Human Rights in the Community’ project, as well as the launch of an exciting new guide by us called ‘Make Human Rights Happen’ a guide for voluntary and community groups. The event was attended by BIHR’s Human Rights Champions from locations as far as Belfast, Truro and the North-East, who also went on to help us celebrate International Human Rights Day on December 10 with bunting actions around the country!
Sunderland was one of our last stops on the #16cities Tour – we can barely believe that it is almost all over! The Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens was an old and beautiful venue. Especially the winter gardens with lots of different plants and fish – the Tour team felt like we were in a mythical place!
After welcome and introductions we launched into our first session of the day focusing on the trajectory of human rights from international to domestic in the UK. There was an interesting discussion about how Articles may be worded differently in the Human Rights Act (HRA) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for instance, Articles 1 and 4. BIHR’s Sophie explained that this is because the HRA is legally binding under UK law and therefore the wording cannot be as all-encompassing as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
#16cities headed to Boston for our 13th Tour event and unfortunately superstition had a role to play - we began the day with no delegate packs, no heating and the Alchamy Project’s film not working! However, we were fortunate enough to have a friendly, forgiving and warm audience and the show went on, especially because we were in a lovely spot in the shadows of the Stump!
Our Leicester #16cities venue was a beautiful old building with a real fire providing a cosy (but at times chilly) atmosphere for the event. Helen and Sophie from BIHR gave the welcome and introduction to the Tour, outlining how we are taking human rights out into communities so they can be used in a practical way. We then talked about international human rights law and how it translates into domestic protection for people in the UK via the Human Rights Act. One attendee voiced an interesting point about how traditionally the Human Rights Act has been used in the fields of health and social care but it needs to play a more active role in defending employment rights, with support from trade unions as they provide a route to reaching large numbers of people.
The BIHR Tour team enjoyed watching the sunrise over Menai Strait, the narrow stretch of water which separates Anglesey from mainland Wales: beautiful. We even took our bunting onto Bangor pier – it has now truly travelled to all corners of the country! Mountains were also visible in the background making Bangor a very picturesque location for our event.
It was great to see you all at our Human Rights Tour event this year. We would love to hear more about what you got out of the day and what you think about human rights, which is why we have opened a Twitter competition exclusively for Tour attendees, but you don't have to be a Twitter user to enter!
The winning 'tweet' will receive a free BIHR introductory training session on human rights for their organisation, and the best tweets will be featured in our Human Rights in the Community Project Report, due to be published in December.
BIHR’s Human Rights Tour was welcomed to Belfast by a cold and drizzly day, but a lovely venue and helpful staff more than compensated for this!
Stephen Bowen, Director of BIHR, introduced the event by talking about why the Human Rights Tour is so important: it’s vital to go out into communities and speak to people about what their rights are as education leads to empowerment. He spoke about how human rights give power to individuals and make the State abide by some basic rules.
BIHR’s #16cities Tour was greeted by a large and friendly crowd in Manchester, on a cold and drizzly day! After the welcome and introductions, Beth Greenhill, a clinical psychologist from Mersey Care NHS Trust spoke passionately about how human rights ensures that what the NHS does has a legal backbone. She explained how human rights helps to link lots of disparate concepts together, and how this has been the major theme in recent legislation. There is often a perception that human rights based approaches are expensive to adopt, however, this is not necessarily the case. Winterbourne View, the now infamous care home and site of violent and prolific abuse towards patients cost over £3,000 a week per patient. Supporting people within the community may well be more affordable as well as realising people’s rights more than in institutional care. Beth also spoke about “organisational culture as key to rights protection and promotion” and the role human rights can play as an organisational and personal moral compass. Mersey Care NHS Trust is part of BIHR’s Health and Human Rights Project, read more about this here.