Wellbeing and Activism

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As an organisation working at the grassroots, it is important that human rights-based approaches are used across the organisation, from planning projects, in the way we communicate, to the way to our staff and volunteer policies are worded and implemented.  To build trusted relationships and support activists, it is important to acknowledge the stress, distress and often ill health that is caused by living with human rights violations.

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At Making Rights Real we are committed to sharing our learning, developing best practice around promoting and supporting wellbeing for our staff and volunteers.  One way we do this is through staff wellbeing days. Our wellbeing day in May 2022 was spent with at a yoga retreat with Caroline Foster at Yoga Den  in East Linton and involved a morning of yoga, relaxation and breathwork. This was followed by a light lunch outdoors, a relaxed reflective learning and evaluation session of SEVEN, and an afternoon refreshment in the sun by the River Tyne in Haddington. Everyone felt they benefitted from the calming practice and the team had a chance to step back from delivery to relax and promote our own wellbeing.

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Our Director, Clare MacGillivray,  explored this conversation in her podcast series Fearless: in defence of rights as part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme. Over three episodes, Clare investigates the impact that working as a human rights defender has on the daily lives of those fighting for change, the international frameworks that could be used to protect human rights defenders in Scotland and asks “How can human rights defenders flourish in Scotland?”

Andrew Anderson, the former Director of Frontline Defenders said in the podcast, "One of the strengths of human rights defenders is how passionate and emotionally committed they are. People are so driven by what they're focusing on that they don't want to take time to think about "how do we make this sustainable?""

We are striving in Making Rights Real to make rest part of our human rights activism. As we aim to live and breathe the human rights values of dignity and respect in our daily actions and work, taking care of ourselves must be central to our flourishing as individuals and as an organisation.

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