We’re putting the final touches to a campaign we’ll be launching next month to promote and encourage human rights-based approaches (HRBA) within the third sector.

Through quotes, blogs, case-studies and videos, the #RightApproach will celebrate this way of working, because we know it produces the best outcomes for individuals, communities, third and public sector bodies, and wider society.

HRBA means people with direct experience of poverty and inequalities have their voices heard and are involved in the decision making process. But, some might ask, isn’t this time-consuming and resource intensive?

Well no. When you do it properly, this approach saves time as produces better outcomes.

now seems an ideal time to spread and champion knowledge of human rights within the third sector

To make the right decisions, you surely want to consult the experts. Hearing testimonies on the impact of decisions, and the limited choices people in marginalised situations are faced with, is clearly of benefit to decision makers.

If a HRBA was more deeply followed across the board, we would better get to the heart of the issue collectively.

HRBA also means holding decision makers to account, increasing transparency and sharing information, as well as challenging injustice.

At its core, it means making sure principles of dignity and equality enshrined in international human rights treaties and law are realised at grassroots level.

With the eyes of the world on the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the UK, and the Scottish Government embracing its accreditation of ‘pioneer’ status within the Open Government Partnership, now seems an ideal time to spread and champion knowledge of human rights within the third sector.

That sounds rather lofty and you might be thinking, great but what does that mean in practice?

With that in mind, I recently visited Inverness to see how HRBA are being followed there.

Speaking to a range of third and public sector organisations, I heard of innovative partnership work being done against a host of challenges.

People described many human rights not being realised, including the right to health and well-being, the right to food, respect for private and family life, and the right to freedom of expression.

Benefit cuts, delays and sanctions were forcing people to use foodbanks, while pressure on service providers meant a lack of respite care, available health support being far from an individual’s community, and people being sent to nursing homes at a young age.

Other areas of major concern are ongoing difficulties with realising the full potential of self-directed support, due to both a lack of local choice and decision makers being reluctant to change long-standing approaches.

Unfazed by the scale of these challenges, individuals around the table spoke of available assets and potential opportunities to work together to combat these issues.

There is the potential for shared training programmes between the third and public sector, encouraging experts to travel to the Highlands, to share knowledge and best practice around rights-based approaches.

As well as improving service delivery, this could mean individuals are better equipped to have their voices heard and hold decision makers to account.

A mapping exercise of existing resources would also help smaller organisations link up and better share assets, offering more choice for individuals.

Brexit so far has not resolved the uncertain future of the 1998 Human Rights Act. What’s certain, is that the third sector and human rights have a mutually beneficial relationship, and by promoting human rights, you are taking the right approach.

If you would like to learn more about the #RightApproach campaign, then please get in touch with me by email or give me a call on 0141 465 7533.