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Sowing the seeds for growth: reflections from the Community Researchers

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

By the Social Rights Alliance and Community Researchers (from Intisaar, Sheppey is Ours!, The Annex at Wharton Trust and Difference NE)

“Sowing the seeds for growth in our communities and within organisations”

This was a statement made at the launch of a new film by the Community Researchers ‘Human Rights Defenders Claim Their Rights: A Learning Journey’.

The film was created by the Community Researchers to capture their journey of learning with the Social Rights Alliance. The audience was made up of friends and allies we made on our journey, people from other human rights organisations who wanted to hear about what we’d learnt, and members of the public who faced their own struggles to claim their rights.

Claiming the right to talk about rights

Through the video, the Community Researchers sought to share their learning so that others may 'claim the right to talk about rights'. An important lesson was that human rights can feel alien and inaccessible to communities:

“What we are talking about [in the film] is really confusing for our communities – the language does not make sense to them. When we started, we asked what is this all about? All of these were gibberish… we had to go back to our process to see how we can talk about things a to z.”

This statement by one of the Community Researchers really emphasises this exclusion and confusion around the complicated language and nature of human rights laws, systems and a human rights-based approach.

At the beginning of the film, our former Social Rights Co-ordinator Susanna Hunter-Darch has a bit of confusion herself as to whether her recording is working stating “Why isn't this working? Is this working?”

“For me it was making sure the film portrays the conversations we had.”

The Community Researchers were keen to include this technology confusion from Susanna as a reflection on how they all felt on this journey talking about human rights laws, systems and a human rights-based approach.

Human rights board game

In their work the Community Researchers took this exclusion as a challenge to overcome, and created a new way of thinking about a human rights-based approach through their manifesto. At the launch, we also discussed more about how the Community Researchers are challenging this exclusion through the creation of a board game:

“The game explores important aspects such as solidarity and protected characteristics and is very much an extension of the conversations we were able to have in this safe and friendly environment”

This spirit of solidarity, and the subsequent conversations around its meaning, is something that blossomed under this project due to the Community Researchers being able to have open conversations within such a diverse group.

The game will not only reflect the learning from the Community Researchers project but will also be reflective of the open dialogue the Community Researchers were able to have within such diverse group. Like the film, the game aims to act as an accessibly way to engage people with human rights by placing them in certain situations in which they experience economic, social and cultural rights violations and discuss them. Watch this space for further game-related developments.

Sowing seeds for growth

This idea of “sowing the seeds for growth” very much reflects the arrow and the target principle for not only the learning that the Community Researchers have instilled in their local communities, but also for what Just Fair and the Social Rights Alliance have learned through this project and how this learning will help us to grow. With this in mind, Just Fair is currently undertaking a ‘human rights audit’.

The audit will use the PANEL principles, the focus points from the Community Researchers' ‘A Manifesto for Change’ and the Evaluation Report as a reference point, with the audit culminating in a report that will make recommendations to Just Fair staff and trustees on how a human rights-based approach can be better realised in our Social Rights Alliance work.

More updates on the audit and our social rights movement to follow very soon!

Image by Marko Jovanovac

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