“I learnt the importance and significance of what René Cassin stands for and the crucial role the organisation plays within society”

12 Aug, 2019 | Latest, Work Experience

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By Lily Compton, July 2019

Lily Compton reflects on how her work experience week has inspired her to not just observe events, but to take action to protect human rights.

Originally, when signing up to do work experience with René Cassin, my initial excitement stemmed from the late starts and early finish, but throughout the week I have learnt and experienced so much more than I thought possible in such a short period of time. I learnt the importance and significance of what René Cassin stands for and the crucial role the organisation plays within society. With an increasing significance in connection to my own Jewish heritage, and how we can use our past suffering in order to influence a better future.

On the first day at René Cassin my expectations of work experience were quickly challenged, as my original image stemmed from previous experiences of organising files, cleaning up areas or even doing impossibly large coffee runs. This was quickly squashed by the reality of René Cassin and the importance of what is done within this organisation. As soon as I arrived I was promptly sat in a meeting room where the history of our current human rights was laid out in front of me, I was quick to learn of all the different flaws and the growing adaptations necessary in order to increase the strength and effectiveness in preserving our human rights. This became even more relevant with the daunting prospect of Brexit finally being implemented growing closer and the unknown effect it could have on our future human rights safeguards.

One of the many tasks I was charged with was researching into other minorities during the Holocaust. This was particularly unnerving as I looked closely at different groups that I previously thought did not face prosecution. I was able to look at different policies and see the discrimination that a variety of groups and minorities faced in Nazi Germany. But the most shocking factor was the growing parallels with Nazi Germany and today’s discourses towards minority groups. Whether this takes place in horrifying labels i.e. Katie Hopkins comparing refugees to cockroaches, or even the growing association of detention centres to concentration camps. Through this task the importance of the role of René Cassin and other social action organisations, who aim to ensure the UK honours international human rights and protect rights at the national level by raising international awareness of human rights issues in the UK.

Following on from the research task I sat in on a meeting with the Jewish Social Action Forum, where I got to witness the cooperation of multiple Jewish organisations coming together in order to share ideas and thoughts on different issues in order to create a larger effect across the board. In particular, I found the guest speaker, from The Passage, particularly eye opening as she highlighted the vulnerability of homeless people in becoming victims of modern day slavery. I was educated on different forms of slavery as well as distinct signs in order to spot people who may be forced into these situations, which I urge others to research and learn about. This talk, both emotional and informative, has inspired me to do further research on the organisation and look at more of its work, and I am currently looking for any way I can volunteer with The Passage over the summer in order to help people and prevent modern day slavery.

Throughout this week I have learnt and experienced a variety of different social action events which have inspired me and taught me to not simply watch an event on the news but to spread awareness and take action in order to protect not only my human rights, but the human rights of society as a whole.

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