Issues around human rights are always key, but the focus in the news on incorporation of the UNCRC, Westminster’s plans to overhaul the Human Rights Act, and SCVO’s appearance in front of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee brought them to the front of my mind last week. 

Also coming across my desk last week was the news from my web colleagues that Google’s algorithms have marked a 2016 blog from SCVO’s #RightsApproach campaign as a key resource for the search query “how do we promote and protect human rights and dignity?”.  While it’s brilliant that our resources are being highlighted in this way, the focus on work from five years ago was a bit of a puzzle. 

But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised; human rights are, surely, always a vital issue, and one which is always timely.  It is also an issue which is of key concern to many voluntary organisations across Scotland.  As I highlighted in a previous blog post, as we have moved our policy focus to issues impacting on the sector’s operating environment, SCVO has transitioned out of a number of thematic areas where we used to be active, including human rights, leaving those to the plethora of voluntary organisations with the current expertise to campaign and support on those issues.   

In the last couple of weeks, for example, The Poverty Alliance has hosted a conference linking poverty and human rights; the Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security has arranged an event on human rights and social security; and Making Rights Real, a grassroots human rights organisation for Scotland, held its first AGM and Gathering.  This is only a tiny sample of the amazing human rights work carried out by voluntary organisations the length and breadth of Scotland. 

Of course, SCVO is here to support those organisations and amplify their voices: 

  • Last week my colleague Paul Bradley highlighted to the  Equalities, Human Rights and Social Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament that for voluntary organisations to play their part in securing human rights across Scotland, they must be securely funded and supported 
  • Together with the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, we have tried to keep on top of both the practical and the rights implications of Brexit, including most recently contributing to this joint paper with questions for UK and Scottish Government. 
  • As part of our conversations with members around the Scottish budget, several members asked us to make reference to points they were raising around the importance of human rights based budgeting, which we were more than happy to do. 

I started drafting this blog conscious that anyone coming to SCVO’s website through the Google algorithm wouldn’t find a ‘human rights’ heading under our policy work. It has been useful to remind myself that human rights are threaded throughout our work, as indeed they are right across the voluntary sector. At a time when human rights can feel under threat, we need a strong sector to support this vital agenda, and SCVO is here to support that.