Published Friday 18 October 2019 at 12:04
A Hate Crime Awareness Week event held in Blackburn reached out to victims of hate crime to offer support and love.
Take A SEAT was held in Wesley Hall in Feilden Street on Thursday 17 October, with a host of local organisations coming together to offer people ways to feel Supported and Empowered, and to offer them ways to move forward to Achieve and Try new things.
The event was well attended by users of a variety of local groups, from disability support groups to refugees and asylum seekers, as well as individuals who felt they could benefit from the services on offer.
The family of Sophie Lancaster from Bacup, who was murdered in 2007 for her goth style, were also in attendance at the Take A SEAT event.
Sophie’s brother Adam Lancaster, his partner Nicola and their children came along to share Sophie’s tragic story and to talk about the work the Sophie Lancaster Foundation does to help get violence and abuse targeted at someone because of their sub-culture recognised as a hate crime.
It’s very important that we come along to events like this with Sophie’s story. Unfortunately hate crime is still massively under reported, although in the current political climate incidents of hate crime have risen. Hopefully events like this one will raise awareness of the support that’s available to hate crime victims, and encourage people to feel more confident to get help and report what they’ve experienced to the authorities.
The Foundation also does a lot of work in schools, and we’re reaching a new generation now. We find young people are usually shocked when they hear Sophie’s story for the first time, that it could ever happen and that hatred towards people who look different continues to happen today.
The Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Councillor Jim Shorrock, visited the event to talk to the organisations present about the support services they provide across the borough.
The Mayor also took the time to hang his own message to hate crime victims on the Tree of Hope.
Councillor Shorrock said:
It was a fantastic event to be a part of, and I’m grateful to all the organisations who were present to reach out to those people who need their help and support. Hatred towards others because of how they look or their colour, creed, religion, sexuality or disability has no place in a civilised society, and should be consigned to history. Breaking down barriers and binding communities is what we do in the name of social cohesion.
I was moved speaking to Adam Lancaster and his family about their experiences, and enjoyed hearing about the work they do through the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to help people who have been victims of hate crime.
Visitors to the event had the opportunity to share their own messages on the Tree of Hope. It will now be moved to Blackburn Cathedral where it will be displayed for the International Day of Hope and Remembrance on Sunday 20 October – visitors and worshippers at the Cathedral will also have the opportunity to share messages on the Tree.