Our work in June has been incredibly varied, with our vital casework service running along side our preventative work in the community. Throughout this month, there’s been much to celebrate when it comes to our diverse communities, as we mark Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) History Month, Pride and World Refugee Day, among others.
All of these national events are geared up to celebrate and embrace the different experiences these cultures and communities bring to every day society.
Even though these events are now cause for joy and celebration, they initially started because the groups of people they represent were marginalised by society. It’s important to remember when celebrating awareness days and months that the reason we have these days is because people from these communities have struggled in the past, and that they continue to face discrimination and prejudice today.
Here at SARI we support people from a whole host of communities, and we have a very diverse staff team, many of whom have lived experience of being a victim of hate crime. It is through the coming together of these different communities and backgrounds that we are able to have a wider understanding of each other and how our past experiences impact who we are today.
Even though this month is meant to help raise awareness of the issues people from the GRT, LGBTQ+ and refugee communities face, we still see them being subjected to hate crime, and in the month of June our casework team has continued to work diligently to support victims of hate crime in our region.
In the past month, we‘ve received referrals for incidents where people have been targeted because they are in a same sex relationship as well as being targeted for the colour of their skin. We’ve recently been supporting a person who had come to Bristol as a person seeking sanctuary who was in the process of transitioning; unfortunately, they were facing discrimination from both their own community and from wider society. SARI supported them to make sure they felt safe in their own property and through a multi-agency approach we were able to identify who the perpetrator was and the local authority was able to move them. On paper this seems like a relatively easy task, but for our client this was months of struggling and feeling like they were not being believed or listened to. Thanks to the support of their SARI caseworker, their voice was amplified in meetings and we were able to get across just how detrimental their living situation was. Now they feel safe and they feel a lot better in themselves.
At the time of writing this blog post we have received 77 new referrals just in the month of June – so nearly 4 referrals every working day.
We don’t just carry out casework. We deliver training and education sessions and, this month we’ve worked with our partners in the Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination Service (BHCDS) to deliver a number of awareness sessions to community groups, letting them know how they can get support. groups to tell them about our service and how they can get support from SARI.
We have also been working strategically across the Avon & Somerset region to promote best practice services and relationships with the police, local authorities, other statutory and voluntary agencies and local communities, as such we recently contributed to a Hate Crime Needs Assessment commissioned by South Gloucestershire Council – 20 of our former and current clients contributed their experiences to this study. The 130-page report concludes that charities like SARI and specialised hate crime support services are essential for victims, agencies and communities if we are to ensure the best outcomes. Other authorities in the region are now looking to conduct similar consultations.
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.
“I was paranoid with all the problems I had, but our caseworker was very good, she gave me good advice how to get more support and I am now getting more support from other services.”
“We had on going issues with our neighbour where their son was being extremely abusive towards me and my children. SARI helped guide us through the situation and even though things are still not perfect we feel a lot safer in our home.”
“Our caseworker’s communication was very good. I trust my caseworker blindly – thank goodness for her, my life (is) so much better as a result.”
As an organisation we’ll continue to advocate for victims of hate crime, supporting them in the aftermath of incidents and helping them to find solutions.