Hate crime and intolerance are a blight on Bristol and won’t be tolerated, say leaders of a new collaboration set up to tackle the issue.
Religious representatives, key agencies, police and fire officers, victims of discrimination, theatre groups and the Poet Laureate Miles Chambers were among those who united in City Hall for the official launch of the most comprehensive service working to address injustice to date.
The collaboration began taking referrals in July 2017 and opened 121 new cases in the first four months: 86 racist; 21 disabilist; seven homophobic; four faith-based and three transphobic.
Speaking about the initiative, mayor Marvin Rees said: “Bristol won’t accept hate crime.
“While we cannot guarantee its elimination, we can guarantee we will do everything in our power to keep people safe, support survivors and take on perpetrators. I welcome this new service as a practical commitment to that.
“A coordinated response between Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination Services, health, the council the police is essential. I hope the people of Bristol will be proud of what this says about who we are and stand for as a city.”
Replacing the previous Bristol Hate Crime Services, the new collaboration provides support for victims of any type of hate crime and also brings in discrimination legal advocacy, restorative approaches, mediation and conflict resolution services for dealing with hate and discrimination.
The launch on Thursday (November 30) marked the end of Islamophobia Awareness Month 2017 and saw Zaheer Shabir, of Totterdown’s Jamia Mosque and chair of Building the Bridge, take to the stage alongside Alex Raikes, director of Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI).
He talked about the incidents of hate experienced at the mosque, but also the huge outpouring of support from the community.
Amjid Ali, chair of Bristol & Strategic Independent Advisory Group, spoke of the impact even low level harassment can have on the victim as he called on members of the public to challenge hate and take action where safe to do so.
Police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I have made protecting the most vulnerable from harm the number one priority in my Police and Crime Plan.
“Hate crime destroys lives, instils fear and rocks communities and will not be tolerated in Bristol or the wider communities of Avon and Somerset. Only by working together can we end hate crime.”
The Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination Services is a collaboration of agencies, led by SARI, with local providers: Brandon Trust; Bristol Mind; LGBT Bristol; Avon & Bristol Law Centre and Bristol Mediation.
Alex Raikes MBE added that SARI is proud to be leading a group committed to helping victims of appalling abuse and also one that can offer legal and restorative solutions.
Main photo: (Left to right) Katy Tovey, Jemma Ballinger and Daniel Bryan, who are all trainers working with Brandon Trust, using drama to combat hate crime.