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...and an intermittently dying house plant!

A book discussing the intersection between disability, economics and other disadvantages that are often neglected in the disability rights sphere; a bronze statue of a stag that reminds of the original motivations to create spaces for men to discuss mental health; a shoe to symbolise the importance of feet and routine in migrant and refugee communities; a pen that gives young people the start to their learning in a new country; a diary full of inspiring meetings and connections alongside the opportunities that were missed due to mental health struggles; and an intermittently dying house plant telling of the ups and downs, the stops and restarts of a research project.

These items were used to by participant introduce the new group of Community Researchers who came together for the first time earlier this month. As part of a new project within the Social Rights Alliance, this team are going to use action research to explore what Economic, Social and Cultural Rights mean in their communities and how a Human Rights Based Approach can add value to their activism.

Each of the new Community Researchers bring rich lived and learnt experiences to the project:

Nic, has recently joined Difference North East – a charity that fights for equality for disabled people and an end to discrimination on the grounds of disability. She brings with her a number of life experiences that influence her ideas around care and equality and is particularly interested in the intersections of disability and health with economic deprivation and access, particularly in terms of access to arts and culture.

Martin, from Minds for Men Wellbeing for Women at the Wharton Trust brings his wealth experience as a community organiser who has established locally rooted practical solutions to issues relating to food security and mental health in Hartlepool. He is particularly motivated to explore how his local community may identify with human rights and how they could be motivated to use these to make change.

Ester is a co-founder of Solidarity Hull, a community organisation run by and for people from around the world, mainly from refugee backgrounds. Ester brings years of experience working within her community around issues faced by young migrants and their families. With this project she hopes to better understand Human Rights and how they can effectively be utilised around issues of food security.

Kayleigh, founded Sheppey is Ours! to inspire members of their local community to take responsibility for the environment, democracy and community of Sheppey in Kent, one of the poorest areas in UK. They are interested to explore how a human rights based approach can help the community improve lives. This project will also work to support Kayleigh to develop new ideas and approaches to build the Sheppey is Ours! movement locally.

Hinda has recently founded a new organisation, called Intisaar, in response to the experiences of communities of colour during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for culturally appropriate mental health services. She brings lived experience of the migration system and years of professional practice in youth & community work using participatory action research as a tool to create change at the grassroots in London.

Emma is undertaking a PhD at Lancaster University and is joining the group to explore how we learn about Human Rights in the context of Community Development using participatory research approaches. When not studying Emma work with Lawyers Against Poverty and is also on the Advisory Board of the Social Rights Alliance.

The Community Researchers team will be using an Action Research process 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 develop new approaches to their social justice work. Through a supported 6 month process (September 2021 to March 2022), mainly over zoom, the group will also be sharing their learning through blogs and social media, and also creating a film about their journey. We hope to be able to share this in person in the six communities in early 2022, and there will be popcorn (as promised Ester!)!

There is still one space available for another Community Researcher to join the team in September. We would be really interested to find someone based in Yorkshire & Humber, as there is the potential to pair up within regions.

If you are interested, please do get in touch for more information,

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