The Vulnerable Group Programme has been one of the FHR’s flagships programmes focusing on the promotion of the access to socio-economic rights as enshrined in the South African Constitution. There are dozens of vulnerable groups that the FHR works with including children, women, youth, farm workers, farm dwellers, people living in the rural and peri-urban areas, LGBTI+ persons, persons with disabilities, youth in prisons, migrants, and persons affected by racism and xenophobia.
What does FHR do as part of the Vulnerable Groups Programme?
Support to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working with vulnerable groups
Over the last two decades FHR has supported a range of civil society organizations to promote rights for all, and has used different media to deliver rights-related content. Most of the FHR’s work has been facilitated through grant-making to CSOs across South Africa, thereby reaching a diverse population.
Multimedia programmes for vulnerable groups
As part of our constitutional education activities, the FHR conducts multimedia campaigns to promote rights and justice for vulnerable groups. A number of projects discussed under our Participatory Democracy Programme, including the Big Debate, the Schools Moot Court Competition, or Keep it Constitutional use various media to promote human rights. The #KeepItConstitutional consists of 20 short footages discussing rights under the Bill of Rights, while the Big Debate is a TV programme aired by SABC. As part of our multi-media campaigns, FHR works closely with community radio stations. This has been prompted by our research which found that most South Africans access information via radio stations. We have recently engaged SABC 2, News Room Africa, Ligwalagwala FM, SAFM, Carte Blanche, Soweto TV, Gau TV, and Capricorn FM amongst others.
FHR has been empowering vulnerable groups through capacity-building initiatives, constitutional education, research on best practices and ensuring their participation in policy development. These initiatives have included the establishment of the National LGBTI+ Task Team, facilitating the participation of CSOs in the drafting process of the National Strategy on Women, Peace and Security, and providing an expert commentary on the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, amongst others. The FHR has also enabled the participation of a number of vulnerable groups in the drafting process of the National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Other Intolerances.
Responding to calls for assistance
The Vulnerable Groups Programme Manager, Ms Sarah Motha, has been acting as a point of contact for vulnerable individuals seeking assistance, help or advice. Thanks to her efforts, a number of individuals, including migrants, refugees, women victims of violence, individuals in a need of food or other services, were referred to relevant organizations or institutions.
The Anti-Xenophobia Activities
Under the SEJA, the FHR has supported anti-xenophobia initiatives across the country through the community forums and dialogues, raising awareness via social and traditional media campaigns, providing grants to CSOs, research and constitutional education. As part of its community-based initiatives, the FHR managed to set up local multi stakeholder forums against xenophobia such as interfaith forums, revived street committees and held interventions/facilitation of dialogues in hot spots of xenophobia such as in Umlazi, Mamelodi and Rossettenville and Katlehong. More than 38 dialogues and forums have been conducted by FHR under Socio-Economic Justice for All (SEJA) Programme. The FHR has conducted media anti-xenophobia campaigns by raising awareness about the incidents in the Rossentteville, Mamelodi and burning of the Casual Workers Advice Office.
Under SEJA, the FHR has provided funding to at least 64 migrants organizations in relation to their anti-xenophobia activities, and has produced research and publications such as the anti-xenophobia school’s curriculum and Innovative Strategies to Counter Xenophobia. As part of its constitutional education activities, the FHR has been working with the Department of Basic Education on the anti-xenophobia and anti-racism schools programme. The programme has been successfully piloted nationally in rural and peri-urban schools with a curriculum that was developed by University of Johannesburg, Centre for Education as commissioned by FHR.
"Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn't feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive"
Brene Brown, American Professor and Author
"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has freedom."