Splashing about to hold the powerful to account

Posted by Siân Nicholson on 15 September 2017

A mile might not sound like far to go. A mile in a car is nothing. On a bike, it’s a breeze.

But for the past few months I’ve been psyching myself up for a particularly daunting mile – a gasping dash through the freezing flowing depths of the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

And – even though it’s my actual nine-to-five JOB to raise money to keep our work going – I’m doing it in aid of Liberty.

From Llyn Gwynant to Charlton Lido, Kenwood Ladies' Pond to my regular training sessions at Brockwell Lido – it’s been quite the summer.

I’m always up for a challenge, but this has been far harder than I thought. It’s not just swimming endless lengths of my local lido – it’s the early mornings, the cold water, the bird poo in the lake, the funny tummy from swallowing too much water, and turning down friends because I have to train, again.

Working at Liberty has been a great source of inspiration already, reminding me every day of why I keep swimming, even when I’ve had enough.

As I plunge into that river tomorrow, I’ll be powered through the water by thoughts of the very real danger our hard-won human rights are facing in the UK – and of the brilliant work my colleagues, our clients and our members are doing to protect them.

We’ve been standing up for people and helping to make our country a better, fairer place for more than 80 years. And we’re needed now more than ever.

I know how hard our Advocacy team is working to get a People’s Clause into the Repeal Bill to make sure we don’t lose our rights after Brexit – and I’ve seen our members emailing and tweeting their MPs to tell them to take a stand.

I’ve seen the difference our lawyers make day in, day out, helping people challenge everything from police abuse to mass surveillance.

I’ve read the hopeful messages from our supporters, who’ve backed our campaign to reverse the racist government policies and rhetoric that are dividing our communities and spreading discrimination on our streets.

And I’ve watched our clients fighting for answers and justice in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds – sometimes for decades, like the family of Private Sean Benton.

We’re a small team at Liberty – but with the help of our members we punch well above our weight when it comes to protecting rights and freedoms in the UK. Liberty is ordinary people, standing up to power and I’m proud to come to work every day and do that.

But we can’t do it alone. Liberty is totally independent of those we seek to challenge – we receive no Government funding, so we’re free to truly hold the powerful to account.

Every penny we receive from our supporters helps us to take on the powerful in court, in the news, on the streets and in politics.

And if you can spare a bit of cash for my sponsored swim, it’ll make swimming a mile down an icy river feel like one more step forward for rights.

You can donate to Siân’s sponsored Serpentine swim today – or become a member of Liberty for as little as £1 a month to keep supporting our work.

Sian Nicholson

Siân Nicholson

Philanthropy Manager