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The challenge

“What is Just Fair as an organisation, a human rights organisation learning from [this project]? What will it take forward in terms of working with communities like ourselves and very powerful individuals like ourselves?”

This was one of the challenges laid down to us and other human rights groups in April 2022 by our Community Researchers, people with lived and learnt experience of everyday human rights violations.   

Just over a year on, we have started a new project to respond to this challenge.

Our journey so far

From September 2021 to March 2022, we worked with this group of Community Researchers to explore the principles of a Human Rights Based Approach, build an understanding of economic, social and cultural rights, and grow their capacity and skills as they developed new approaches to their own social justice work.

As so often happens with this type of work, when you are learning along with participants, new doors open. We reflected on what we had learnt from the Community Researchers and explored it further in our internal Human Rights Based Audit which we conducted May – October 2022.

A key recommendation from this audit was for Just Fair to:

“Establish a time limited ‘Leadership Advisory Group’ to advise how the organisation involves and integrates the expertise of people with lived and learnt experience or activists in all its work.”

We were conscious that how a group is established, is as important as what it does. As such, in December 2022 we advertised for a consultant(s) to develop a proposal for us on how a ‘Leadership Advisory Board/Lived Experience Advisory Board should be established by Just Fair’.

In a wonderful turn of events, two of our original Community Researchers, who had kicked off this whole project, Nic Cook and Hinda Mohamed took up the opportunity.  

Their resulting proposal drew on desk-based research, and their own personal experiences of such work.  They provided us with an outline of how such a board or group might function and what we needed to consider in its development to ensure a truly participative process where power was shared with all those involved.

Developing our new group

Based on the proposal developed by Nic and Hinda, and thanks to funding from Tudor Trust, our new Associate, Kahra Wayland-Larty will be taking forward the development of this work over the next year.

Kahra will first set up and support an initial developmental advisory group to co-produce, with our trustees and staff, a terms of reference and decision-making framework proposal for a potential more permanent advisory board or group.  In early 2024, Kahra will work to implement the next steps on establishing and supporting the advisory board or group, based on the work completed in the first phase.  

 

Next steps

The process to date has taken a while because we have taken great care to make sure, based on the knowledge and experiences shared with us, that we are getting it ‘right’ and are prepared for any changes that this work might mean for us.

We won’t get it all right all the time but are excited to begin this next stage of our journey for lived and learnt expertise to be more firmly at the heart of our work to realise our economic, social and cultural rights.

For us, the participation of people with lived experience of human rights violations needs to be both the ‘arrow and target’ of our work.