IF YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED
This book has explored several harmful human behaviours. As we’ve seen from the narratives of the remarkable people we’ve met, people are fighting back – they are making a difference. You can help. If you want to get involved, here are some suggestions. These are three organisations that are operating nationally and internationally to reduce the sum of human suffering. I strongly commend them all. On the book’s dedicated page at the penguin.co.uk website, there is a longer list of NGOs fighting poverty, injustice and discrimination, along with latest details of how you can get involved with the three organisaitons below.
Organisation 1 – INQUEST
The impetus for my research and thus the book was what happened to Gareth Myatt at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre. I represented his mother Pam at the inquest into his death. Throughout the arduous and highly contentious proceedings, Pam and her family were supported (as was I, brilliantly) by the multiple award-winning human rights organisation INQUEST. I’ve been working with them for around 20 years on cases where citizens have died in contentious circumstances in the care and custody of the state. It’s hard to overstate the importance of what they do. It is, without question, one of the jewels in the human rights crown in the UK. Director Deborah Coles and her team work tirelessly to get the truth. As did former co-director Helen Shaw. Bereaved families, grieving over the sudden death of their loved ones, would be lost without them. For over three decades INQUEST has had to find out the hard way what works and what does not to get the facts when the state is implicated in the death of a detained person. We have few more important areas of collective scrutiny. That’s what INQUEST does. They are now seeking to develop their work internationally, so people in other countries can benefit from their expertise. The unique character of INQUEST is that its legal and strategic policy work has always been informed by its hands-on casework, supporting bereaved families. This combination has given it an unrivalled overview of the investigation of state-related deaths and proposals for greater state accountability. Please support them – or get involved yourself.
Organisation 2 – ActionAid
As you’ve seen, one of the human rights issues I’ve been deeply involved in for several years is FGM. To combat it, to protect the 3 million more girls who will be cut in the next 12 months (one every 11 seconds), we need to join forces. One of the key organisations working to fight the harmful practice of FGM is ActionAid. As a leading international charity working in over 45 countries since 1972, ActionAid has been fighting poverty and working with the poorest women and girls in the world to change their lives for good. It offers practical, hands-on help to develop a long-term, sustainable impact. It advocates an ethos of supporting women to lead their communities out of poverty and participate in civil and political life as the strongest way to build a peaceful and just society. ActionAid works directly with women’s rights organisations in ten different countries providing funding and support to their efforts to stamp out FGM in their communities, and ultimately, to enable girls to build a future of their own choice. These countries are Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria (in some States), Senegal, Somaliland, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Uganda. You may wish to contribute to ActionAid’s direct support of women and girls who have escaped FGM. They train women to form Women’s Watch Groups to report cases of FGM, and work with women’s rights organisations to lobby governments to pass laws to end FGM and all other forms of Violence Against Women and Girls. I strongly commend ActionAid to you.
Organisation 3 – Unicef
I couldn’t leave this section without mentioning Unicef. So many parts of the book have looked at what do we to children. So does Unicef. It works to ensure that we protect children better. It is Unicef’s hope – and its unalterable demand. It makes it on behalf of some of the most vulnerable children on the planet. Unicef works unrelentingly to stop children being used as combat troops. I’ve seen what Unicef does. I’ve played football with children on the borders of the Central African Republic who, without Unicef, might not be alive. I’ve seen the classrooms Unicef has built, and in them the paintings of the children on the walls, depicting their lives and their dreams. One of the paintings I saw in the Gado camp was simply a hut with a smiling child standing next to it, next to a river, next to a tree, and what was stunning about it was what was not there: no guns, no jeeps, no blood, no bodies. It was a child being allowed to be that most precious yet fragile thing: a child. That’s what Unicef strives to do. You can help them in their work today.