On 18th September 2015 the Medway Human Rights Network was launched as an initiative of the Human Rights Office.
On Saturday 12th November, 10am-1pm, a public event was held at the Sunlight Centre, Richmond Road, Gillingham ME7 1LX:
Magna Carta 1216 and the Human Rights Act
Talks and Discussion about the importance of the re-issue of the Magna Carta on 12/11/1216 by William Marshal as Governor for King Henry III and the link with modern human rights issues, in particular the importance of the Human Rights Act.
10am: Talk by Dr Ingrid van Dooren, Director of Research of the Human Rights Office, Gillingham
10.30am: Presentation of the campaign of Amnesty International to save the Human Rights Act
11.15am: Break with a chance to view the stalls of organisations connected to the Network
11.45am: Appearance by the Knights of Medway
Followed by viewing of stalls and networking
Saturday 18 June 10am-3pm a Public Open Day of the Network was held at the Sunlight Centre, Richmond Road, Gillingham. There were presentations by organisations connected to the Network and stalls with information about their work. Also there was a talk with discussion about the human rights side of the presented work.
The aims of the Network are:
- Getting to know more about the work done by organisations and people connected to the Network
- Creating a bigger network by bringing in the networks of the connected organisations and people
- Achieving more attention from the public for work related to human rights matters by presenting the Network as a combined group
- Work together to show people that it is in everybody’s interest that human rights are protected and realised in practice
- Getting official recognition for the Network as an umbrella organisation, while maintaining the independence of the connected organisations/people and also of the Network itself.
The organisations connected to the Network are:
1. Medway Youth Parliament
2. Physical Folk
3. Amnesty International Medway Group
4. Medway Speakers’ Corner
5. Anti Racism Action/Medway Trades Union Council
7. News in Medway/Combat Stress/Help for Heroes/Royal British Legion
8. Rochester Film Society
9. Medway Inter Faith Action
10.Sunlight Development Trust
11. Medway City of Sanctuary
Below are summaries of the work of the connected organisations.
MEDWAY YOUTH PARLIAMENT
Medway Youth Parliament was launched on 1st April 1999. Young people from the ages of 10 to 19 can become members. It is an independent organisation that provides a link between young people and adults who run services for young people in the Medway Towns.
The aim of the forum is to get the voices of young people heard and to make sure that young people are consulted on issues that concern them and around services that they use. Medway Youth Parliament runs campaigns around issues that are brought to the group and that effect young people; for example young people say there is a need for better careers advice.
There are committees within MYP that work on separate issues: Health and Wellbeing, Community Issues and Young People’s Futures.
Every year MYP runs a youth conference around an issue that young people think needs to be addressed. MYP members organise and run the whole day. Every school in the Medway Towns is invited to bring along ten students to get their voices heard. A report is then written and sent to the relevant adults to campaign for change.
Physical Folk organises projects to connect communities creatively.
One of the projects is Employment Through Arts. This is a project for 17 to 24 year olds in the Medway Towns who are not in employment, training or education and are interested in making a film or drama production and learn employability skills as they do so.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL MEDWAY GROUP
The group was set up in the 1980s. It is a local group of Amnesty International UK. We are campaigning for an end to torture, for fair and equal treatment, for the release of prisoners of conscience throughout the world and against the death penalty.
We do this by joining in with actions such as the Stop Torture Campaign and the Human Rights Act Campaign; by being present with a stall at events such as the Dickens Festival and the NGO market of the Magna Carta 800 Medway Conference; by trading Amnesty products for fundraising purposes; by signing petitions and finding others to sign them; and by writing letters to governments, MPs etcetera about specific cases of prisoners of conscience.
The group meets every second Monday of the month at 8pm at the Friends Meeting House in Rochester.
MEDWAY SPEAKERS’ CORNER
Medway Speakers’ Corner was set up in 2014 to encourage free speech, discussion and debate in the Medway Towns. It is not necessarily about staged debate, the idea is more to create opportunities for discussion and for people to speak about something that concerns them.
In 2016 we are focusing on being present at events. One of them is the Conference of Medway Youth Parliament in November. Another is Metro’s LGBT event at Mid Kent College on the 3rd May from 2pm to 6pm.
ANTI RACISM ACTION/MEDWAY TRADES UNION COUNCIL
Medway Trades Union Council is the body that brings together trade union branches across North Kent to coordinate support for local and national industrial disputes and to campaign on issues of mutual interest. Trades unions have to act collectively and we therefore have a keen interest in upholding human rights in general not just the rights of our immediate members. Consequently we participate in campaigns against racism, injustice and war as well as fighting for workers’ rights whether employed or unemployed.
Recently we were involved in the Europe wide demonstration for the UN Anti-Racism Day on the 19th March. We are trying to create a more permanent broad based anti-racism campaign in the Medway towns. This includes support for refugees.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook Page Medway Trade Union Council.
The overall aims are to reduce re-offending, and to address the widespread problem of homelessness in the Medway Towns/Kent, whilst raising awareness and challenging society’s perceptions, stigmas, and prejudices. The project is primarily to provide affordable sustainable housing initially for men exiting the armed forces or from prison. The houses will be sorted from empty housing stock locally in Kent, and will be renovated environmentally, e.g. looking at what materials are used and at energy efficiency, along with a secondary project of an eco-build and alternative living focus. In addition to this, satellite projects will be set up to address key needs of the client groups, e.g. education/training/employment, health, the arts, therapies, money management, social enterprise, community garden/café, etc.
For more information contact email@example.com or phone 07766101143.
NEWS IN MEDWAY/COMBAT STRESS/HELP FOR HEROES/THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
News in Medway (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a social media group, for connecting and informing volunteers regarding Combat Stress (www.combatstress.org.uk), Help for Heroes (www.helpforheroes.org.uk) and the Royal British Legion (www.royalbritishlegion.org.uk). It is a non profit organisation for the community of the Medway Towns. News in Medway (NIM) supports all three charities and is fundraising for all three. NIM also records events and promotes events in the Medway Towns, by photos and film.
News in Medway is no longer active.
ROCHESTER FILM SOCIETY
The film society was formed in 2012/13 with the intention of screening films not usually shown at local cinemas. Independent/art house cinema is a leading forum for outstanding feature films, documentaries and animated productions, which have human rights as their main focus.
Among the films we have screened with a human rights theme have been: The Act of Killing, 12 Years a Slave, Leviathan and Suffragette.
We are a not for profit organisation and have a number of working groups that lead on programming, marketing and finance. Currently we have screenings every other Tuesday at our pop up cinema – the Rochester Picture Palace at the Huguenot Museum in Rochester High Street and periodically at the Cine Lounge at Sun Pier in Chatham. We have also had pop-up events at a local farm shop, the Nucleus Gallery in Rochester, on the Edith May barge and at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham.
Ultimately we hope to have our own cinema and be able to offer films on their first run, afternoon screenings as well as education events etc.
There are always introductions to the films and the option for free flowing post-screening discussions, where people can express their thoughts on the films as well as learn from others with opinions.
MEDWAY INTER FAITH ACTION
The aims of Medway Inter Faith Action (MIFA) are:
-To promote, organise and support Inter-Faith and Multi-Faith activities in the Medway area
-To promote cohesion and dialogue between the Faiths and Faith Communities in the Medway area
-To promote respect and understanding amongst all
-To support and maintain membership of the Interfaith Network of the United Kingdom.
MIFA holds monthly meetings on interfaith subjects. Recent examples are: religion and women’s rights; sustainability and climate change; freedom of religion.
Several times MIFA has organised a one day pilgrimage to different places of worship in the Medway Towns. This year a walk for Peace Medway will take place on the 2nd July, starting in Gillingham High Street at 10am. Its aim is to promote peace within the community of Medway. MIFA supports and contributes to various events, among them the Holocaust Memorial Day in January, the Workers’ Memorial Service in April, the Week of Prayer for World Peace in October and Inter Faith Week in November.
SUNLIGHT DEVELOPMENT TRUST
Sunlight Development Trust is a registered charity and development trust created to tackle health and social inequality through community development.
The charity is based at the Sunlight Centre in North Gillingham, operates as a social enterprise and delivers support and services both within Medway and outside of the area. Income earned from the Trust’s activities is used in a variety of ways to create local social impact.
- manages the Sunlight Centre, providing affordable facilities and meeting space for local community members, community groups and service providers
- delivers support and services relating to health and wellbeing funded by grants and contracts
- supports community development and promotes social inclusion through activities, events and volunteering
- manages an industry standard digital recording studio and provides a sound engineering service
- manages a community radio station staffed primarily by volunteers
- delivers a community café and events catering service through its trading subsidiary Café Sunlight CIC.
Some of our activities include:
- Medway Alzheimer & Dementia Family Support Scheme – peer led activities to support those affected and their carers
- Medway Men in Sheds – activities for men who are over 30 and not in work and retirees to promote good mental health and wellbeing
- Wellbeing Café – out of hours support for those who might otherwise use unplanned care due to low mood or poor mental health
- Little Sunbeams Nursery – free statutory childcare run by Little Darland
- Working in partnership to deliver inclusive community events and creative activities such as Art Exhibitions, Quiz Nights, Medway Open Studio
MEDWAY CITY OF SANCTUARY
Medway City of Sanctuary was set up in 2015. It exists to support refugees in our local community and to advocate and support refugees nationally and internationally. In particular it wants to support young refugees by organising educational activities as well as other meaningful activities and by helping them to integrate in the local community.
For more information see the website www.medwaycityofsanctuary.org .