Adeela Warley: Great communicators assert their right to be heard

Our admiration must go to those who use their platforms to challenge the status quo

I have recently been thinking about boundaries – personal and societal – because at the moment they feel transgressed. From Covid-19 constraints to feeling unsafe on the street and the threat of online abuse.

Communication boundaries matter, too. The leaking of Facebook’s “private” moderation guidelines gave an astonishing insight to the platform’s judgements about where it draws the line on criminality and malicious behaviour – an operation described by Wendy Via, co-founder of the US-based Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, as having “zero cultural competency”.

Timely, then, for more than 40 UK charities in the #CharitiesAgainstHate collective to launch their recommendations on how to prevent online hate speech and a toolkit to help people share their experiences to lobby for online legal protection.

I also read some excellent guidance from the agency On Road Media on how to set safe boundaries when telling stories about sexual violence or domestic abuse.

Our admiration must go to those who use communications channels to assert their right to be heard.

For them, the jeopardy is real because they dare to challenge the status quo, confront deeply held prejudices, and accept no less than systemic change.

I also have a lot of admiration for Time to Change, which closed on 31 March after 15 years of campaigning to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

From the start, the campaign put people’s experiences and their stories at its heart, walking alongside them on their brave journey.

Time to Change galvanised a movement of family and friends, champions, researchers, politicians, bloggers and influencers to change the national conversation.

Its organisers believed that every small act, every story shared, would create a more equitable society. They crossed boundaries with principled intent, and dared to believe change is possible.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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