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Campaigning for Humanists UK

Watch Richy Thompson describe the experience of campaigning for Humanists UK
As Director of Public Affairs and Policy, I’m in charge of the team that does all our campaigns work, our legal work, our media work, and we work
across a whole range of issues from: equality and human rights; to secularism, that is, the relationship between the state and various religious and non-religious groups; issues to do with education; and other ethical issues as well, such as assisted dying and abortion. And we do all those things both at a domestic level and to some extent at an international level as well.
I feel like the work we do here at Humanists UK is very much focused on trying to maximize the freedom for everybody so long as that freedom does no harm to others. So freedom of religion or belief across the piste is really important and you can see that, for example, in our international campaigns where we often work for freedom for Christians as well as for the non-religious, or freedom for those of other religions more generally. And at the moment we, the UK, are a state that has a lot of privilege for religion in certain circumstances.
For example, in our formal establishment, and in bishops in the House of Lords, and with Christian collective worship in our state schools, and so in our work we very much try and focus on when, where there’s a difference of treatment on the basis of religion or belief, or where we might have something unique to say as the one national group working on behalf of the non-religious, and that may come across to some as being anti-religious, and attacking the religious but really it’s just trying to maximize freedom for all, and making sure that the humanist view is heard across public life.
I think working in public affairs and policy is a really interesting place to work in terms of that when you, when you’re not getting anywhere because you think a certain campaign goal might be even obvious or perhaps it should be easy but you just not achieving it. Sometimes you might feel like you’re really hitting your head against a brick wall just frustratedly going around in circles but at other times you can achieve success and it could be really visible, fantastic, high profile success like, for example, around the teaching of evolution and creationism in schools was something I remember in my first year here, we made a lot of progress on through to just in the last few weeks before this was filmed, humanist participation in the annual remembrance ceremony.
Those successes can be great and you can have a real sense of progress looking back over them and feel that you’ve achieved a lot. I also think that it’s not always entirely predictable as to which campaigns are going to advance and where those successes will be next, and I think that’s part of the enjoyment of working on them in that although perhaps it would be nice if everything went your way, knowing that you’re, you’ve got, you know, you’re trying lots of different things and that some of them will succeed and you want to see how it all pans out, I think that’s the excitement of being a campaigner.
Over my time here, I’ve certainly seen people become more interested in our issues and more aware of the need for things to change, and you really feel like, working here, that we are reshaping UK society for the better
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