Woody Faulkner, Administrative Assistant, British Institute of Human Rights blogs this Small Charity Week
I have been working as the Administrative Assistant for the British Institute of Human Rights for 11 months and 2 weeks, every day of which has been a journey. Prior to working at BIHR I have worked a variety of different workplaces, some large, some very large, most I did purely to collect a wage, and none I have enjoyed as much as working at BIHR.
We are a small team at BIHR, even by the standards of small charities, but I am constantly amazed by the field of impact and scope of issue that my colleagues are able to respond to. Often at short notice they produce well informed, legally sound but accessibly presented interpretation of the fast paced and complex world of UK human rights law, policy and practice. I have seen how, by providing sober and accurate resources, briefings and response pieces, BIHR have been able to help explain and promote human rights protections and duties to large numbers of people and organisations for whom human rights would have remained something relevant only to other countries. Much of this work would be impossible without the integral role played by our tireless and committed volunteers who donate their time to BIHR, helping us to research breaking cases and generally pitching in with the team to get stuff done.
Our small size is no hindrance to our large impact because of a large and diverse network and community of other small charities around the UK, from one person operations to regional outposts of national groups, tirelessly working to end inequality and injustice, to create a fairer society for all in the UK. I have experienced the breadth of expertise and wealth of passion and drive in this sector through my work organising BIHR’s Human Rights Tour (watch this space for information on the 2014 Human Rights Tour), through BIHR’s annual celebrations for Human Rights Day, and through the great support and engagement from small (and large) organisations signing up to show their commitment to human rights through the Human Rights Charter and the Human Rights Alliance.
Working at BIHR has shown me that being a small organisation, in tough economic times, need not be a roadblock to success if you are rich with commitment to the vision and purpose of your organisation. And that is why I love working at a small charity, and that is why I love working at BIHR.
By Stephen Bowen, Director, British Institute of Human Rights
Small charities are the unsung heroes of our civil society.
In small places, close to home they have an impact way beyond their limited resources. Small national charities often lead the way in developing solutions to the challenges we face. They are remarkable for their willingness to focus on the often neglected and sometimes unpopular causes, working to champion the rights of people who are most at risk of disadvantage, poverty and exclusion.
The British Institute of Human Rights is a small national charity with a big Impact.
Across the UK, we help people and organisations understand that human rights are the standards by which a decent society should live. We help people understand that our Human Rights Act is a 21st Century Bill of Rights – a modern Magna Carta which celebrates our contribution to the rule of law over the centuries but which also recognises that we still have much to learn.
I love working for a small charity because of the sense of team work and the shared commitment that exists across the whole BIHR family. It is great to work somewhere that can respond quickly to changing circumstances, and which can stay true to its values however difficult the challenges become. And I love working for BIHR because we are connected, through our UK-wide Human Rights Tour and practice based work, to so many other people and organisations who are passionate in their belief that every member of the human family is of equal value, and that universal international human rights are ours to cherish and defend.
Why I love volunteering for a small charity by BIHR volunteer Natalie Threlfall
I’ve been volunteering at the British Institute of Human Rights for four months and I can’t imagine anywhere I’d enjoy working more. BIHR is a charity that is only small in the sense that every member of staff (plus the volunteers!) fit in one office. Nothing I have done here has ever felt small, and the projects I work on are based anywhere from the very top of the UK to the very bottom. Helping a small charity on big projects has also meant I’ve had the opportunity to really put my skills to the test. When important human rights cases happen that change how the law affects the people we work with, I help get the rest of the team on top of the detail and what the case means.
Mostly though, I love working for a small charity because I have learnt so much more than I ever thought was possible. Being in the same office with people who have an amazing amount of expertise and experience in the field of human rights means that I have only got to shout out a question if there is anything I want to know. The office is always so busy and yet the amazing staff are never too busy to teach me and the other volunteers something new.
Every day at BIHR brings something new to do; I’ve tried my hand at blogging, badge-making, fundraising, tweeting and baking cakes and though I’ve not yet had to knit a chicken I really can’t think of a place where I could learn as much or have more fun, and that’s why I love volunteering for a small charity.