Looking forward to the next CHEX Conference already!

Dave Allan, Deputy Director at SCDC, shares with us what stood out most for him at our #RightsIntoReality conference in February. 

I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to be part of a CHEX Conference. It’s not done to you, it’s done with you. As a result, there is a real energy and dynamism about it that other events don’t quite have – but maybe I’m slightly biased! It’s a rare trick and one which the CHEX team have developed over nearly 20 years. For me this was as much an opportunity to meet up with old friends and contacts as it was to explore the very relevant subject matter. I was re-assured and encouraged that people who have been around in this field for (almost!) as long as me still have a real passion and enthusiasm to change things for the better. There was some anger in the room – human rights arouse strong emotions in people – but I was impressed and encouraged how this was handled, there’s a real duty of care to all participants that comes through at CHEX Conference.

The focus on human rights and community development is really welcome in bringing home to us what this work is fundamentally all about – improving outcomes for people, helping them to overcome barriers, and work collectively for change. We were reminded by Ian in his introductory remarks how integral human rights are in the whole area of community development and community-led health. Judith from SHRC then helped to set this in a much wider context, both historically and globally. Having been involved in these kind of sessions before, it really struck me how important it is to set individual rights issues within this wider context and how quickly you can make the connection between human rights and the underlying determinants of health.

The discussions that followed highlighted the need to make human rights the explicit narrative in community-led health and not submerged within an overall approach. There was also a very interesting discussion about rights and responsibilities and how adopting a human rights approach mean that ‘rights holders’ as well as ‘duty-bearers’ have responsibilities in this area.

I was fortunate to join the morning workshop on disabled people’s rights in Highland. John from Inclusion Scotland is always engaging and thought-provoking in his inputs and this session was no exception. I particularly liked the emphasis on empowerment and how Scottish legislation has followed a ‘route-map’ towards greater empowerment of individuals and communities. It was also interesting to see how human rights-based approaches (HRBA) underpin a lot of other areas of work – such as participation, integrated services, reducing inequalities, and community learning and development. John reinforced the rights and responsibilities message by emphasising how HRBA lead to active citizenship where people are duty-bearers and rights holders. He also stressed the importance of working collaboratively, identifying opportunities and building alliances for change.

In closing, John summed this up – and captured the essence of what I took away from the Conference – “when we talk about Rights we generate a lot of Heat, a positive, collaborative approach turns this into Warmth”.

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