Winners Marsh Award 2017…

…are the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Amnesty International Group!!!  The Marsh Award for Human Rights ActivismTo be precise the award is for “Human Rights Activism” as it says on our certificate.  However, its for what we are proposing to do in the future, rather than what we have done. We entered this annual award, where the criteria was

“Every day, Amnesty groups educate and empower people to take action on human rights in so many fantastic ways. Sometimes though, we know your amazing ideas feel a bit out of your financial reach.

This is where the Marsh Awards for Human Rights Activism can help. We have partnered with the Marsh Christian Trust to recognise your passion and ingenuity. There are three prizes of £500 for Groups (Local, Youth and Student) to help make your ideas a reality.  Your ideas need to positively impact people’s understanding of human rights. Aside from that, the only limit is your imagination!”

So what was our proposal to merit this £500 award? Selfie Frames (or Photo Booth Frames). Below is a (shortened) version of our entry, that explains how we came up with this idea, and why we think it could be a useful way to help engage people.

Sceptical?  All your editor can say (who holds his hand up as largely responsible for this state of affairs), is we have no idea what the other entries were (or if there were any!). Also last year, Hull Group won and commissioned a large professional effigy of a “local and much loved historical campaigner for women’s rights, Mary Murdoch”… But their argument was the much same, create something to stop people at events and engage them.

The next event we have, the one that inspired this entry, is BourneFree On July 1st.  If anyone out there has graphic design skills and/or in any way want to help with this project, please let us know.  What we also need are appealing human rights slogans – such as “Love is a Human Right”, “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness” – that can be utilised on the frames.
We’ll keep you updated, and obviously show the frames in use when made. But for now, this is part of our entry…

How do we engage the public?

“Like many groups we have stalls in public places – sometimes as part of an event (such as Bourne Free, Bournemouth’s Pride Festival) or occasionally setting up our own stall to promote something ourselves, such as Write for Rights (W4R). At these stalls we try to get the passing public to stop and perform some action – sign a card, letter or petition; be photographed holding a sign; or even take part in some stunt (e.g. sit in a cage).

A big part of this problem, particularly when doing one-off events such as W4R, is we are using the crudest form of “interruption” marketing. Even those naturally sympathetic to Amnesty International would tend to view us with suspicion and go out of their way to avoid being stopped by a stranger. We want them to do something and they are not having any of it. There is no incentive to stop. So we struggle to engage the public and spread the word about human rights abuses. Getting someone to sign a card is a brilliant way to introduce them to Amnesty International; but if you cannot get them to stop in the first place then this will never happen.

At last year’s “Bourne Free” some of us also took part in the procession. We had about ten of AIUK’s “Love is a Human Right” placards, which proved very popular and we were lucky to retain a couple for our own use. People liked being photographed by their friends holding them.

Taking a “selfie” has become a major phenomenon of the past few years. Mobile phones are designed to take a “self-photo” and you can get extension arms to make the process easier. No view or landscape is worth taking unless YOU appear in it!

We have seen one or two examples (although this is relatively new) where companies and charities have started to exploit this by creating “selfie frames” (also known as “photo booth frames”). These are like window frames, but made of lightweight (but strong) material like PVC board. The edges of the frame are painted in the company colours with their name and message. Sometimes people create their own for events like weddings.

We thought that if we created a selfie frame based on the “Love is Human Right” message – using the same colour scheme – it would be great for engagement. As well as taking our own photos, the main aim would be to get people within the frame and then photographed on their own phones/cameras. Then encourage them to share on social media with an Amnesty hashtag (also event hashtags such as #Bournefree).

As well as spreading the Amnesty message via social media, getting them to use our selfie frame for their own benefit is a great way to engage. IT’S FUN. Getting them engaged in this type of photo (as opposed to holding up something like ”Justice for J***”) will encourage them to reciprocate (a major marketing tool) and do something for us. They should be less suspicious and more trusting. We could also have frames made up for other Amnesty events such as Write for Rights.

There are many other ways to engage people in fun ways – we’ve seen photos of someone dressed up as an Amnesty candle! There are variations on the photograph theme – large pictures with spaces to put faces in. But we do believe focussing on the selfie frame/photo booth and developing some quality products is/would be an excellent way to engage the public.”

amnesty international at bourne free

2016 stall Bourne Free with placard in background