The 10th December is marked globally as Human Rights Day. This year sees the start of a year-long campaign leading up to 10th December 2018, 70 years from when the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Declaration proclaimed the universal rights which everybody is entitled to as a human being – regardless of who they are.

The UN’s work was led by Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1958 she told an audience at the UN:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination.

The belief that human rights begin close to home is at the heart of our work.

We work with people whose illnesses often result in them suffering discrimination or prejudice, or who are unable to play a full part in society.

The loss of their rights may not just be the result of social stigma. In India there are still laws that discriminate against those affected by leprosy. These barriers increase the risk that those affected may end up with permanent disabilities that could have been prevented.

We help to tackle the stigma associated with leprosy by vising communities and schools to raise understanding of these illnesses. Our work enables women to access healthcare, and helps children to return to school and not hide away at home. In 2016/17 we reached 1.3 million people through health education and events.

While universal rights may start close to home, we help those who need support in obtaining what they are entitled to. Our self-help groups provide training and information about obtaining government grants and services. Last year over 29,000 people took part in meetings to advocate for their rights.

In this important year for human rights, your support will ensure that we can continue to provide help to those who need it – in the small places, close to home.

Find out more about where we work and our projects