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Sharing the story of everyone’s human rights, every day

The Equally Ours Campaigns highlights the importance of human rights to all members of society. Emma Hutton, Programme Director at Equally Ours, explains how the campaign came to be. 


“We need a beacon that humanises human rights, inspiring everyone to realise they benefit all of us here in the UK, every day, in very practical ways; that they are an important part of our shared heritage, helping to make equality, dignity and respect real for everyone.”


This is how Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, launched Equally Ours last month as he explained why human rights are so important to all of us, including the people with mental health problems who Mind works with.


More than 100 campaigners and communicators, from large charities to small pressure groups, came together on 19 November to discuss how to develop a more positive conversation about human rights in the UK, and to hear how Equally Ours will support that.


Equally Ours has come into being on the back of two years of research and planning by a wide network of charities, all keen to see the public debate on human rights focus on how to make rights real, in practice, for the people they work with. Recognizing that the everyday story of human rights is missing from this debate at the moment, the Equally Ours partners are working together to raise awareness of the benefits of human rights for everyone.


Our research shows that most people are already supportive of human rights but that there is limited awareness of how human rights work in practice; this leads to many people feeling conflicted about them. We know that when people hear about the way that human rights are relevant to them in their everyday lives, they understand them better and are more supportive overall. As organisations who believe firmly in the importance of strengthening the human rights safety net for everyone, it is important that we keep raising awareness of its benefits.


There is a real challenge involved in this: our analysis of the current media discourse about human rights shows that it is predominantly negative, with stories showing the benefits of human rights in everyday life almost entirely missing.


But this untold story is also our opportunity. By giving a voice to individual stories of people’s human rights being affected, we believe we can open up a more positive public debate about human rights more broadly.


When we get older, human rights protect our dignity in hospitals. If we have mental health problems our human rights help ensure we receive high quality, compassionate and safe care. We can use our human rights to challenge racism and disability discrimination. As children, our human rights support us if we experience violence and sexual abuse. This is the human rights story that we want more people to hear.


As Paul Farmer says,


“As organisations working with people whose human rights are too often at risk, we want to help people understand how the human rights safety net can protect them. This can help more people understand and feel confident about challenging abuses when they happen. It can also help prevent abuses happening in the first place.


We need to facilitate that kind of conversation on a national scale and reframe the narrative. The way to achieve this is through a values-based approach to communicating about human rights. Mind supports Equally Ours because this is exactly what the campaign aims to do.”


Working as a partnership, Equally Ours has exciting plans for 2014. We will produce communications briefings for campaigners and advocates, deliver training sessions, source and share stories that show the human rights safety net in action and work with organisations to develop values-based ways of talking about human rights. All of our resources are free to charities and NGOs interested in a new way of talking about the issues that matter to them and the people they work with.


If you would like more information about Equally Ours, sign up to our free briefings or get involved, get in touch.


E: [email protected]


T: @equallyOurs