Thomas Paine Initiative

Strengthening support for human rights in the UK

The Thomas Paine Initiative was a collaborative grant-making programme, active 2009-2019, with the aim of strengthening support for human rights in the UK.


The Thomas Paine Initiative combined strategic grant-making and commissioning with convening and networking to support activities that demonstrate the value of human rights to everyone. Through this, the Thomas Paine Initiative sought to:

  • Change the way we talk about human rights: supporting the development of evidence-based messaging capable of reaching and building support among the public. Initiatives supported through the programme include Equally Ours and Rights Info.

  • Strengthen links between human rights and related fields to build a common vision for a better future. Key insights are captured in the report More Than Words, commissioned to foster stronger and more collaborative communication on issues that cut across multiple sectors.

  • Explore opportunities to democratise human rights: supporting local initiatives using human rights as a tool for social change and finding new ways to make human rights relevant to people in their day to day lives.

  • We will continue to build on the legacy of the Thomas Paine Initiative, exploring the value and importance of human rights in social action and building bridges between human rights and community organising. 


With thanks to: The Barrow Cadbury Trust, Oak Foundation and Open Society Foundations for funding the Thomas Paine Initiative.


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