News

Region unites to say Merseyside is no place for hate

Merseyside / February 05

Victims, volunteers, support workers and local school children have united with Merseyside’s Police Commissioner to urge people affected by prejudice and hate to reach out for help as the region marks Hate Crime Awareness Week.

Jane Kennedy has worked with a diverse range of people to encourage anyone affected by hate crime to speak out through three social media films. The short videos promote the three dedicated support services for victims of hate crime commissioned as part of the PCC’s Victim Care Merseyside service delivered by the Anthony Walker Foundation, Citizens Advice Liverpool and Daisy Inclusive UK.

They feature the testimony of a range of people who have experienced hate crime first-hand and have bravely told of the devastating impact on their lives and how they have been supported by the charities to recover and rebuild their lives.

In the first film, promoting the specialist care offered by the Anthony Walker Foundation, available at https://youtu.be/jS7VYmT_XEI one victim Yvonne, talks about how she was subjected to racial abuse, intimidation and unwanted sexual advances from a neighbour, before being supported by Merseyside Police and the Anthony Walker Foundation.

She said: “It made me feel like I am actually like a baby again, trying to walk again, stand up on my feet. I think they helped me so much on the psychology side. If you have the chance and you don’t know what is possible to do and you really don’t understand the law or the system like me... the foundation will help you actually carry on.”

Also featured in the Anthony Walker Foundation film, are teachers and pupils from Lawrence Community Primary School in Wavertree, who are among the many schools and colleges across the region working with the charity to raise awareness of the devastating impact of hate crime. The charity’s Partnerships and Projects Manager John Au said: “What we say to people who have been affected by hate who have never reported it, tell someone. It doesn’t have to be the police. It can be someone who understands what hate crime is and who can signpost them to the appropriate services.

“By raising the understanding of hate crime, it means that we can challenge behaviours, attitudes and hopefully reduce the number of offences in the future and to educate young people about the harm and consequences of hate crime.”

The second film available at https://youtu.be/clUUOPKzNXE focuses on promoting the specialist service offered by Citizens Advice Liverpool to support victims of gender or sexuality-based hate crime. John* was referred to them after suffering abuse and threats in his area. He said: “Before I contacted Citizens Advice, I was receiving homophobic verbal abuse from youths in the area, also they were spitting at me as I was walking past and throwing stuff at my window.

John added: “Citizens Advice are a fantastic service, I now feel safe in my own property again, which is what everybody should be able to feel. It was a really, really helpful service.”

The video also features Lynette Bebbington, who now volunteers for Citizens Advice Liverpool, who was targeted by a gang of youths after finding out someone transgendered was working in the area. She said: “They sort of came round and made a bit of a nuisance of themselves. I don’t think you should be quiet about it, there are lots of people that will listen to you. Being a volunteer at Citizens Advice, I find it’s really rewarding actually because I am a people’s person anyway. I do enjoy what I do, people just don’t know where to turn sometimes.”

Citizens Advice Liverpool’s Chief Officer Heather Brent said: “We can help by providing advice and information at the time when somebody most needs it, when someone is feeling at their most vulnerable. We can put them in touch with vital services and we can help them to deal with the impact of that crime. People come in, in a very fragile emotional state, and we are able to help them, to give them the tools they need to go on to either report the incident or move through the incident.”

The final video promotes the support victims of disability-related hate crime offered by Daisy Inclusive UK is available at https://youtu.be/pGliw0NhRdU. Will, who now volunteers for the charity after being supported by them, said: “Before I got in touch with Daisy, I was in isolation for seven years of my life. I didn’t want to leave my bedroom, let alone my house. Before going to Daisy, all my confidence levels just stooped to an all-time low… Coming to Daisy has made a massive difference to my life.”

Leon, who has Asperger syndrome and turned to Daisy Inclusive UK after suffering abuse from his neighbour, added: “I found out about the disability hate crime service at Daisy, when I asked if I could receive help with what I am going through at home, which is antisocial behaviour. The help I received was brilliant. I was expected to give evidence against what was going on, but Kate (my support worker) made them aware of my condition and how it can affect me. Thankfully it didn’t come to that and we were able to settle outside of court and thankfully it has all been dealt with since.”

Throughout the awareness week, all three charities are hosting a series of assemblies, youth workshops, advice seminars and stall to promote the help available and encourage anyone affected to seek support.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Merseyside’s Hate Crime Awareness Week is an important date in our calendar, which gives us all the opportunity to celebrate and promote the rich diversity of our region. It also gives us an opportunity to come together to reaffirm and renew our commitment to challenging and tackling acts of hatred carried out today.

“Our region is famed for its warm welcome. A welcome that extends to people from all races and faiths, to people of all sexual orientations and genders and to people of all abilities, whether they are visiting for work or leisure or whether they have chosen to call Merseyside home.

“At a time when our country and the world seems deeply divided, it is more essential than ever that we remain vigilant to combat discrimination, racism and prejudice in our communities. That’s why I was delighted to work together with our commissioned services to promote the support and care they can offer to anyone affected by hate crime in Merseyside. I’d like to thank everyone who supported this campaign by taking part in the films.

“I would urge anyone who has been subjected to hate to contact Merseyside Police. Or, if for any reason you don’t feel comfortable speaking to the police, ring independent charity Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625 who provide 24/7 help and support or visit http://www.stophateuk.org/

“There are also more than 90 independent centres across the region where you can go to contact Stop Hate UK - anywhere displaying a ‘red hand’ logo is part of this important network standing up against hate.”

Alternatively, you can contact these organisations directly by the following means:

Watch the Anthony Walker Foundation film here https://youtu.be/jS7VYmT_XEI

Watch the Citizens Advice Liverpool film at https://youtu.be/clUUOPKzNXE

Watch the Daisy Inclusive UK film at https://youtu.be/pGliw0NhRdU

Shortened versions of each film have also been produced for social media. They will be used on the PCC’s twitter account at @MerseysidePCC and facebook page on /MerseysidePoliceandCrimeCommissioner