Bridport as a Rights Respecting Town
Bridport is a rural market town on the West Dorset coast with a population of 14,000. It is a very mixed demographic with around a third of the town living in 2 housing estates with some of the lowest levels of poverty in England alongside very wealthy landowners, an increasing elderly population and a large portion of young people leaving the area due to low employment or career prospects.
As a community we work hard alongside our young people to create life and work opportunities in the town but it’s a challenge.
This community project is driven by initiatives instigated by the town’s young people. They approached town councillors and the mayor. They proposed bringing people together across our community, to enable all of us to fulfil our potential by creating improved access to our Rights, Human and Social, and to address issues of inequality and lack of rights at the earliest opportunity.
The young people who are at the heart of this project have been / are at schools which have worked to become recognised as being “Rights Respecting” for their students. This has come about through participation in UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting School Award. The young people cite the positive community ethos and improved relationships in their schools but have commented that they don’t find this on the streets of our town. The young people say that outside of their schools and in the town, they don’t experience the clear values and common language of respect and mutual understanding that they have developed by being at at a school where respect for human rights is modeled in the classroom and around the school. They are concerned to see that the latest national statistics on hate crime identifies Dorset as having the highest increase of racist and homophobic attacks in England. Bridport young people took the initiative to ask the Town Council to commit to working with them and the community towards the town putting human rights at the heart of its ethos, values and governance. The council was inspired by this request and following further investigation and discussion, in 2017 the Mayor declared the town to be committed to becoming ‘Rights-Respecting’, the first English town to do so.
The rights that underpin and give legitimacy to the project are those set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the UK Human Rights Act 1998 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In-depth consultation across all age groups in Bridport led to the creation of a town Charter of Rights with information and questionnaires being provided in the town centre and at our Charter Fair.
The Bridport Town Council adopted the Citizens’ Charter and declared its intention to become a Rights Respecting Town in Bridport Town Hall on 31st January 2018.