London is home to thousands of community organisations and charities providing services and support that help people to access their rights. From therapy services that recognise and respond to diverse religious and cultural needs, to food banks supporting people to navigate the benefits system and claim support, to community partnerships and mutual aid networks that offer lifelines of essential support.
About Just Fair and BIHR
Both Just Fair and the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) have years of experience working with community groups like these, supporting them to use international and domestic human rights law in their work, so they can in turn support individuals and communities to know and claim their rights. By working with those at the grassroots, we can combine lived and learnt experience to build real-world change for those facing discrimination and disadvantage. We are also experienced in increasing the ability of those with responsibility for upholding rights to fulfil their duties.
The London Human Rights Communities Programme is a new programme funded by the Baring Foundation and City Bridge Foundation, aiming to support London-focused civil society organisations to develop and use human rights-based approaches to create social change. With our combined experience of human rights implementation, Just Fair and BIHR are honoured to lead this exciting new project.
Over the next four and a half years, we will be working with London-focused civil society organisations to scope out the barriers that stop communities from naming their rights and the systems that work against them when they claim them.
In response to requests from those working in communities, we will build new training and resources that support community organisations to be better ready and able to respond to emergent community needs and strengths – and confident to engage with the law to create social change.
For those looking to take a step forward in their work, we will also be inviting applications for further intensive support, to include up to four years of funding to support the use of human rights-based approaches by four locally led projects.
How groups can get involved
We are kickstarting the project with four ‘Open Days’ across London. The Open Days offer organisations a chance to connect with others, learn more about human rights and how to use them as a tool for justice, and share in understanding the systemic and systematic barriers to rights realisation seen across the capital.
What we have done so far
At our first two Open Days – held at ATD Fourth World UK and Amnesty International UK – we met over 30 activists and organisations with direct knowledge and experience of responding to inequality and injustice in their communities.
We heard about the realities of life for people whose rights are not being met; families living in poverty yet ineligible for free school meals, trained doctors seeking asylum who want to work but are restricted from doing so, and survivors of the Windrush generation who still suffer the effects of their treatment 50 year later.
In small groups, we spoke about the world we wished to build, the values we hold, and the spaces and communities we cherish. Together, we drilled down into how we can know, claim, and use our human rights and what it would mean for the UK to respect, protect, and fulfil its responsibilities under the Human Rights Act and the international laws it helped to draft. We shared our experiences and drew connections between our efforts to dig into the causes behind the challenges our communities in London face. And we explored what engaging with the London Human Rights Community Programme could mean: from access to specific training on human rights, to funding opportunities.
The mornings were an opportunity for all of us – BIHR, Just Fair and the fantastic attendees – to fill our toolkits with new human rights-based knowledge and approaches, build local connections over lunch, and share in solidarity – refilling our cups so that we may in turn serve others.
If your organisation wants to learn more about this programme, funding, and support opportunities, we encourage you to join BIHR and Just Fair at the upcoming Open Days.
You can learn more about the programme and sign up to be the first to find out the dates of our next events by clicking the link below.