Human Rights Week: Community activities exploring human rights in Dublin North East Inner City

LYCS Human Rights Week (HRW) is a week of activities exploring various aspects of human rights. LYCS is a community development project in Dublin North East Inner City.

The aim of Human Rights Week is to increase understanding of interdependence and connection and to celebrate values of human rights, solidarity and respect for diversity in LYCS. The different programmes in LYCS (Adult, Youth, Creche and Community Training Centre) have conducted many separate DE activities supported by the development education staff based in the Adult Programme over the years, but we have found that Human Rights Week has invigorated DE across the organisation by capturing the imagination and generating interest and excitement about development education through the framework of human rights.

The theme and the organic approach have allowed each programme to contribute and engage in a way appropriate to their concerns, participants’ age group and needs and the kind of activities they run.

Activities have been proposed and coordinated by the development education programme but also initiated within each programme. Some of the topics explored during HRW have included labour rights, human rights in the Palestine/Israel conflict & in Iran, human rights activism, Traveller rights, Apartheid and racism, LGBT rights, and the rights of migrant workers.


Participants from:

  • LYCS Community Training Centre
  • LYCS Youth Programme
  • LYCS Adult Education Programme
  • LYCS Creche (staff and parents)

Numbers involved from each programme have varied each time. Over 100 people have been engaged directly in activity during each Human Rights Week and a further 200 indirectly engaged


Human rights Week takes place annually in March. This was chosen as the optimum time to suit our various programmes and their need. Some programmes/ tutors do preparatory work in the weeks preceding Human Rights Week.

Human Rights Week has been held annually in 2012, 2013 and 2014.


Human Rights Week in LYCS was initiated and is supported by the development education staff. The Development Education team supports the other programme managers and staff, helps devise activities and generally coordinates activities.

  • Designed LYCS HRW Interactive Poster, fact sheets and leaflets, reproduced images and photos.
  • Adapted activities from Amnesty International and other sources. Use of online sources including you tube
  • Some workshops and activities designed by visiting facilitators/organisations
  • Notwithstanding the support and guidance provided by the development education programme we believe that other coordinators or trainers could also run this week successfully given sufficient dedicated time and by drawing on resources available e.g. through, Amnesty International and other NGOS


The idea was generated at a development education team meeting and included in main funding proposal to Irish Aid.

The concept was then pitched to the managers of the other programmes, who responded positively.

For the second HRW a staff member (rep) in each programme who would drive the event was identified.

These reps from each programme began to meet regularly along with the development education worker. This constituted the ‘inter programme organising group’. Each rep liaised with their team and participants.

Each programme decided what they could do and what would work as opposed to having to conform to a pre-existing programme. We wanted the week to be organic, flexible and fun as well as a learning experience.

The role of the development education worker was important in working with the emerging ideas, providing resources and helping to design quality inputs and events.

Opportunities for both direct (events, workshops, group activities) and indirect (HRW fact a day distributed, visual displays) participation were planned

Nearer the time, programmes agreed an event schedule and invited other programmes to participate/attend/view work.

Certain whole organisation elements were carried out by the development education worker e.g. fact sheets, posters, though often drawing on the resources of others within the organisation

Case Study: engaging in a whole-organisation approach

Human Rights Week has succeeded in finding a place within the organisation because it has related to the interests and concerns of different programmes and is thus relevant and doable within the context. LYCS is a community development project. The fundamental aim of the organisation is to address poverty and social exclusion by building the capacity of local people to participate in their community, society and world.

The organisation is very diverse, with different programmes, approaches, funders and funding imperatives. In recent years there has been a lot of change and increasing pressure from funders to focus narrowly on education for the market place. This has made it difficult to integrate development education into certain programmes

The challenge was to find a way to involve the whole organisation in a development education event in a way that could accommodate the diverse needs, interests and priorities.

Thematic and educational content

Human Rights have a strong resonance in a community in which there is an ongoing struggle to achieve basic rights in what is in global terms a wealthy country. Much of the content of Human Rights Week has focused on rights issues which are ‘live’ for participants – the concept of rights, discrimination, exclusion, work and gender.

The focus and the depth of content and learning have varied depending on the event or activity. Some have focused on the level of personal learning. For example the Human Rights Week Interactive Poster invited people to finish the line ‘I have a right to…’ The posters were displayed around the organisation during the week.

Other activities focused on:

  • The rights of others, particularly minority cultures and groups. A number of Talking Human Rights events involved young human rights activists sharing their experiences though storytelling, presentations, participative exercises and questions and answers.
  • Workshops on labour rights and LGBT rights gave participants the space to explore their own attitudes to consumption, discrimination and other issues as well as providing new information.
  • Project work as part of FETAC programmes on Communications and Personal Effectiveness allowed for in depth research around particular issues.

In 2013, for example, activities during the week included:

  • The Fact a Day and other human rights material displayed and distributed across the organisation
  • Visual display on child labour in the Crèche
  • Visit to Liberty Hall by CTC trainees and staff
  • Talking Human Rights event with Yaser Alashqar and Roja Fazaeli
  • Young people in the Youth Programme created collages on the issue of child labour
  • Talk on Trafficking by the International Migration Organisation with young leaders in the Youth Programme
  • Instructors work on what is a trade union and workers’ rights with CTC trainees
  • Visual display on a range of issues related to worker’s rights in the Adult Programme
  • Fair Trade event in the Adult Programme
  • Public Meeting: From 1913 – 2013: Worker’s Rights are Human Rights
  • Bracelets signifying various human rights issues made and sold by CTC trainees in aid of children’s rights
  • IT group in the Adult Programme looked at the Declaration of Human Rights online
  • 2 Human Rights Week banners produced and displayed

The overall result of Human Rights Week has been to reinvigorate development education activity in LYCS. There has been an increase in the number of requests for information, resources and ideas and an increase in activity. Our community training workshop has begin to participate independently in International Women’s Day and International 16 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women and have named development education as part of the social education element of the core curriculum.

The lessons from this experiment in organising a whole organisation event are ongoing. We have discovered that some events suit a mixture of younger and older adults and some don’t. Preparatory work with some learners has enabled them to have more ownership over the content of the week. The inter-programme organising group has enabled some programmes to take more responsibility for Human Rights Week, freeing up the development education workers to focus on building participation with others.

Describing and measuring the impact of Human Rights Week can be challenging given the diversity of people activities and events involved and we are still grappling with this. However, it is clear from the increase in conversations, increased development education activity, and increase in expressions of interest in learning more, that a whole organisation event that is relevant and flexible enough to meet diverse and changing needs is a very appropriate one for a community development setting. Apart from the learning gained during the week itself, it can have a significant impact in terms of building visibility, support for, and interest in development education.

Project Learning

  • Relating to the context and participants needs – both in terms of theme and approach – is crucial
  • Working across programmes is complex and identifying people who could help drive the event was important
  • Creating space for other programmes to ‘co-create’ the event is both an opportunity and a challenge. Non DE workers inevitably have a more ‘local’ and less ‘global’ focus and there is work in finding a way to bring global perspectives in. But the challenge of this is outweighed by the interest, ownership and new thinking generated.
  • Many activities are not suitable for mixed age and ability groups. This has meant that some programmes have engaged less and has also meant quite a high volume of activity which has to be coordinated and managed. Time and resources are important

Measuring Impact

  • Initially, objectives for HRW were only loosely set – to allow for the organic development of the event
  • After the first Human Rights Week, a survey was carried out among participants and a formal evaluation of the whole event was conducted using the feedback from this and from programme staff
  • Individual events and activities are evaluated by participant feedback and tutor observation. A formal evaluation of the event as a whole is conducted by gathering feedback from programme staff.
  • Indicators for success include: The number of events and activities, levels of participation, positive feedback from participants and staff about the learning, increase in the amount of conversations about human rights broadly and the specific areas explored during HRW, increase in discussion about development education among staff teams, increase in requests from staff teams related to development education work, increase in development education activity in the various programmes.
  • Describing and measuring the impact of HRW is part of an ongoing learning process

Links to Project Activities

See photos from Human Rights Week 2012, 2013, 2014