On Tuesday February 23 the Equal Rights Trust launched its Bob Hepple Memorial Fund, a campaign aimed at helping those at the start of their career in equality and human rights through funded internship and fellowship placements with the Trust.
The human rights NGO sector is notoriously competitive and some form of initial unpaid experience beyond university is often a necessity. The Trust is one of a few organisations that provides paid placements, fulfilling its mission of promoting equal rights for all. These placements give those without the financial means to work for free an opportunity to pursue their ambition.
“It was disappointing to devote so much of my academic life to human rights and to find that many of the opportunities to put my knowledge into practice weren’t open to me,” said Ben Smith, Legal Research Intern at the Trust. He continued, “I couldn’t work in London for a lengthy duration without being paid – the Trust’s internship made all the difference to me”.
Not only do the Trust’s interns and fellows benefit but they also make a huge difference to the Trust’s success in advancing equality worldwide. The Executive Director of the Trust, Dimitrina Petrova, explained, “The scheme is a win-win, the talented interns and fellows who work with us also provide a great deal of support across a wide range of activities.”
The Fund has been established to continue the legacy and vision of former Chair (2007-2014) and Honorary President (2014-2015) of the Trust, Professor Sir Bob Hepple QC, who was a leading equality expert and activist. He had a significant impact on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and on equality legislation in the UK and worldwide.
Bob Hepple’s widow, Mary Coussey commented, “The Fund is an excellent contribution to Bob’s memory. It will give people at the start of their career a step up, and will further Bob’s vision about transformative equality and equal rights of all.”
The campaign has been launched along with a short film outlining the experiences and views of the Trust’s interns, fellow and Executive Director. It has set a minimum target of £1,000 to be raised over six weeks, which, if met, could support a needs-based grant for a legal research intern for up to six weeks. If the campaign meets its desired target of £10,000, the Trust could support four legal interns and a fellow for three months. Anything beyond this would allow the Trust to extend the duration of these placements.
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