“Anything you do for any section of society, like older people, can benefit everyone”– Hackney group participant
BIHR and Age UK are currently working on an ‘Older People and Human Rights’ project. Three pilot groups have been given human rights training sessions: a group in Stockport campaigning on access to public toilets, a group in Hackney lobbying to protect the Human Rights Act, and a group in Derbyshire making a DVD. This project builds on research highlighting the existence of human rights abuses happening to older people in the UK and on evidence suggesting that human rights approaches can be a powerful tool for change.
Case study – the Derby group
The Derby and Derbyshire Age UK “Older People’s Human Rights Group”, is comprised of around ten older LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) individuals and is developing a film about older people going into care. The film seeks to examine the fears that LGBT older people have about going into a care home. The group conducted interviews with a range of over-fifty year olds asking them about their fears of the future.
The film will be launched on December 10th to coincide with Human Rights Day. It aims to reach out to older people; the film provides information on human rights and on where older people can find more information on them. It is also hoped that the publicity generated by the film will spread its messages to a wide audience of older people who haven’t seen the film.
Participation in the project involved a transformation of attitudes towards human rights. Initially, the participants of the project felt that human rights were not relevant to their lives; human rights were instead perceived as relating to individuals abroad, in particular to slavery and degrading treatment in prison. However, through involvement in this project, participants came to see human rights as very relevant to the lives of older people in the UK.
Participation in the project empowered individuals. One participant stated, “I would challenge now, much more than I would in the past”. The impacts of the project went further than this; a number of participants who volunteer for LGBT and other organisations have used their knowledge to talk to people in those organisations about their rights. Participation in the project has inspired its participants; one participant said, “I find myself thinking, what are we going to tackle next?”
Knowledge about human rights and how to use them can empower individuals to take more control of their lives; it is a way of putting more power in the hands of individuals.
For one participant in the Hackney group, “When you mention human rights, it changes the atmosphere. Suddenly you are evoking a set of rights that they are banking on the fact you know nothing about! They take you more seriously.”
One member of the group in Stockport says, “I feel powerful and can use that power to educate and inform others!”
For more information visit http://www.bihr.org.uk/news/older-people-in-hackney-fired-about-their-human-rights
BIHR is an independent human rights charity that is committed to challenging inequality and social justice in everyday life in the UK.
We want a society that has become stronger because all human beings are equally valued, can participate fully and are treated with fairness, dignity and respect.
We believe that human rights have meaning and benefit for everyone. They are not just abstract or legal concepts and documents – they can be brought to life, and used practically to create a fairer, more tolerant society and tackle inequality and disadvantage.
We think that this can only happen if human rights are understood, applied and claimed, outside the courtroom and by a wide range of people and organisations.
So our mission is to bring human rights to life – supporting and empowering people and organisations to use human rights to improve their own lives and the lives of others.