Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison sang of making 'tiny changes' and this is how we can advance the cause of human rights – Eleanor Bird

This Thursday marks 2020’s Human Rights Day, the celebration of which lasts for the duration of December as Universal Human Rights Month.

The late Scott Hutchison, lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, wrote the lyrics: 'While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to Earth'
The late Scott Hutchison, lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, wrote the lyrics: 'While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to Earth'

December 10 signifies the day that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being.

In her championing of human rights, chairperson of the drafting committee of the UDHR, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” When have these words rung truer than in 2020?

Roosevelt’s sentiments were mirrored by another wonderful human, my cousin, Scott Hutchison, who took his own life in 2018. While he was with us, as frontman of the band Frightened Rabbit, Scott wrote the now famous lyrics “While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to Earth”.

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Since we lost him, Scott’s inspirational and entirely achievable ethos has helped people across Scotland and beyond to embrace the imperfect but momentous, the small but mighty. It also led to Tiny Changes, a charity built in his memory to support youth mental health and well-being.

In this deeply imperfect yet momentous year, as has been so often repeated, we have all faced a threat that we never previously expected to. However, once again, I have been struck by the way in which human beings have met adversity with resilience and adaptability and it is this feeling of fortitude that will be at the heart the council’s recovery out of Covid-19.

Both the Adaptation and Renewal Programme and the Best Value Assurance Audit Report were recently brought in front of councillors and set out the council’s pressures and opportunities as well as the changes the organisation has already been through and those that are still to come. The Audit Report, whilst inevitably calling for increased focus in some areas, also acknowledges notable strengths.

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Recognition is given for the leadership shown by the council in addressing the pressing issues of poverty and sustainability in our city and the tangible positive impact that action of this kind will have on the day-to-day lives of Edinburgh citizens.

Just like this year, none of this will be easy. As each of us has demonstrated, however, we are all capable of the seemingly little but genuinely life-saving things necessary to achieve it. As the old adage goes, there’s always room for improvement but as we stumble towards the end of a year like no other, I’m reminded that this can only happen with and thanks to the help of our fellow human beings.

So, on this Human Rights Day and throughout Universal Human Rights Month, remember that while you’re alive, you can do no better than to make tiny changes to Earth.

I wish you all a very merry festive period and a prosperous 2021!

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Eleanor Bird is an SNP councillor for the Forth ward

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