By Sam Waddington
We can’t believe just how successful our campaign has been so far:
This week we at SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living CIC have been leading Southampton’s ‘Love Don’t Hate’ campaign to help tackle the problems surrounding hate crime, in the city and hopefully other parts of the country too.
To coincide with National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2018, from the 13th to the 20th of October, we have launched a network of 29 local organisations, to raise awareness of the severe impact hate crimes are having on individuals and their communities and encouraging more people to report incidents.
Hate Crimes are prejudicial verbal / physical attacks or threats based purely on someone being a Disabled Person, their race, religion, sexual or transgender identity.
The city had 600 cases of reported hate crime incidents in 2016-17, the second highest rate of hate crime out of any city in the United Kingdom and a 30% rise from the previous year.
With Southampton being such a diverse, multicultural place, with a mixture of individuals from 55 different countries these statistics are a concern and need to change.
The fact that so many incidents are taking place is the reason why we have decided to bring together a number of community groups in the city, that deal with all types of people in society irrespective of aspects like their race, sexual orientation or religion.
Launch of the ‘Love Don’t Hate’ campaign outside the SPECTRUM CIL offices in Southampton
Rather than each community group dealing with hate crimes against a particular group of people, developing a campaign with all aspects of society involved, including statutory organisations like the Police and Council, we believe will have a bigger impact in preventing hate crime.
Getting the public talking about the campaign and realising that hate crimes are taking place more frequently than they think should enforce the message that what’s happening is unacceptable.
If more of the public understand that then hopefully it will change the mindsets of certain individuals and make them more tolerant to people who are different to them.
The end goal is to be one of the groups that helps change the societal norms, so our differences are seen in a positive light rather than as something negative.
With the presence the ‘Love Don’t Hate’ campaign has had in the local media this week we believe a good job has been done in reaching out to the public.
Case study pieces in the Daily Echo (see below), on those who have been directly targeted based on their identity, will have probably attracted the attention of those who knew of the word hate crime but not what it actually means for individuals.
‘Disabled shopper’s hate crime ordeal’ published in the Daily Echo on Tuesday the 16th of October
The fact we had stories about hate crime incidents on BBC Radio Solent and our chief executive, Ian Loynes, speaking on the Julian Clegg Breakfast show during the week about the campaign was also positive publicity for the campaign.
Hopefully people in the area getting ready for or on their way to work might have stopped for a few minutes to think about the seriousness of hate crime.
Ian Loynes, Spectrum chief executive, preparing for his interview with BBC Radio Solent
To Listen to this interview, including with the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, click on this link:
Tackling people’s perceptions about different individuals in the first place is what really needs to be done to reduce the number of hate crimes, however the reality is that these incidents are still happening and those targeted need the right support.
Which is why alongside the campaign, we’ve launched a smart-phone app for anyone who is a victim of hate crime or witnessed an incident in Southampton to easily report what’s happened.
That way a better record of the incidents can be kept and people know that all they need to do is open up the app for the incidents to be dealt with.
It’s also designed to educate the public about hate crime, which is what needs to be done after National Hate Crime Awareness Week and beyond, as these incidents are sadly happening all the time.
We are confident this campaign is just the start of more individuals being accepting to others and hate crime being better understood by society.