Making Rights Real is a small and dynamic organisation with a big vision – human rights for all. We are supporting communities to use the power of human rights to make social and economic change. The six-year journey to create Making Rights Real began with a meeting of hearts and minds and a spark that quickly ignited into action on human rights issues.
On a bitterly cold International Human Rights Day in 2014 at a national innovation forum for Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights (SNAP) in Glasgow the first envisioning of a new partnership for Scotland emerged, inspired by the work of Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) – a Belfast based organisation doing grassroots human rights work.
Conversations about the success of PPR’s housing rights work and a willingness to test if the approach could be replicated in Scotland led to the ground-breaking Housing Rights in Practice Project – a key action in SNAP to demonstrate the impact of rights in practice for people in communities.
The project was a partnership between PPR, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and Edinburgh Tenants Federation (ETF) and aimed to support a group of residents living in poor housing conditions in Leith, Edinburgh advocate for their right to an adequate standard of housing.
People were experiencing problems with damp, mould, ineffective or broken heating, pigeon, rodent and insect infestations, and maintenance issues.
Over four years, residents used a human rights based approach to monitor and measure progress in their housing conditions to hold the duty bearer (in this case the City of Edinburgh Council) to account. They secured £2.3m investment in their homes from the Local Authority, including a heating and window replacement programme, new kitchens and bathrooms and a raft of external works.
Following the project, which came to an end in 2019, residents reported improved physical and mental health, improved feelings of self-worth, confidence and pride, reduced fuel poverty and a feeling that there is a better sense of community.
The project is a powerful example of using human rights in practice. The SHRC published its Housing Rights in Practice: Lessons Learned from Leith that highlights reflections from rights holders, duty bearers, support staff and the Commission.
Since the completion of the housing rights project, people who had been involved with it considered how this approach could be expanded across Scotland, setting up Making Rights Real with a vision to support more communities to use the power of human rights to make economic and social change happen.
Making Rights Real was founded in 2020 following scoping work funded by the Baring Foundation.