This blog was originally published as part of the Social Rights Alliance’s work. Set up in 2019 by Just Fair and funded by the Tudor Trust, the Alliance aimed to empower rights-holders to claim their rights. The Alliance’s work is now part of Just Fair’s broader mission to build a movement of people claiming their economic, social and cultural rights.
As I enter my last week with the Social Rights Alliance England and Just Fair, I find myself reflecting on what I have learnt, what I take away with me and what I leave behind.
I find myself thinking back to Steve Mokwena, the South African youth advocate I had the great privilege to work with back in 2005. Steve spoke of the importance of understanding that participation (in his field, youth participation) was both the arrow and the target of our work.
This image has come front and foremost in my mind over the last few weeks.
The participation of People with Lived Experience of human rights violations, needs to be both the arrow and target of the work we do at the Social Rights Alliance and Just Fair. It is simply not enough that our work aims to create greater participation for marginalised voices. It needs to be in all we do, participation is the method of getting there, the process we create together, the means through which we reach that aim.
It is not possible for participation to be either the end goal or the process. It must be both.
And when I talk about participation, I’m talking about the transference of power. Redistributing the power, moving the table out of the way – not just inviting a select few to sit at it as it presently is.