In a month where the country marks 30 years since the death of Stephen Lawrence, the importance of raising awareness of the impact of hate crime has never been so vital. As an organisation, SARI has always promoted the vision that everyone should be treated equally, and we strive to make sure that future years are shaped by what we have learnt in the last 30.
Even though the legacy of Stephen Lawrence, and the impact his death had on society, is plain for all to see, hate crime sadly still exists in the world today. In the month of April our casework team has continued to work vigilantly to support victims.
Whilst a lot of the work we do here at SARI is aimed at being preventative and raising awareness of the impact of hate crime, we still see reports of needless and senseless racism, homophobia, transphobia, faith-based and disablist attacks. This is where the one-to-one support our caseworkers provide our clients really comes into its own.
In the past month, we’ve received referrals for incidents where people have been targeted because of where they have come from and their gender identity. We’re supporting one family whose home was targeted by a neighbour, with the neighbour shouting racist abuse, telling them “you don’t belong here” and damaging the family’s property. Another person our casework team are supporting has been on the receiving end of verbal abuse for being a transgender woman. The client was misgendered on a number of occasions and subjected to several transphobic remarks. Since getting in contact with SARI, they’ve said they feel heard and that they have a voice.
At the time of writing this blog post we have received 47 new referrals into our service this month –more than 2 new referrals every working day. This demonstrates that even 30 years on from Stephen Lawrence’s death a service like ours is vital to help victims feel empowered and heard.
Another significant event which took place in April was the celebration of International Romani Day, a day which celebrates the rich and diverse Romani culture. We’re all too aware of some of the prejudice and discrimination which this community faces and which often goes unchecked. This is why SARI is proud to play a vital role in making sure people from a Romani background have a forum to speak about their issues in Bristol; we lead the Gypsy, Romani, Traveller strategic forum for the city and we’re working with a diverse group of people with gypsy and travelling heritage to develop an independently constituted voice and influence organisation. This organisation is just about achieve their independent status.
As well as taking on new cases, we also helped many of our clients find a resolution to the situations that had arisen as a result of being a victim of hate crime.
Here are some examples of the feedback clients gave us this month regarding the service they received from our team.
“We are thankful for the support we received from SARI and it was good knowing they were there as a safety net. We have now moved and our situation has really improved. The school were awful in responding to us and it took SARI’s involvement for them to take any action. Thank you for all your hard work.”
“I can’t knock our caseworker and the work she put in – without SARI’s help we would still be in the same situation we were in when things first started for us. We have now moved house and everything has stopped and without our caseworker this would not have been possible. Massive thank you to our caseworker, she has been amazing.”
“Without SARI no one would have heard our issues. I have a child who has special needs and since our caseworker was involved their confidence has come back which is amazing. Our caseworker was amazing, she challenged the police a lot for us and it really made a difference to me and my family.”
As an organisation we will continue to support victims of hate crime and give them a voice, and help them find a solution to whatever situation they find themselves in.