This past year, we’ve once again seen the impact that hate can have in our communities. Through our work, we witness this daily. But what gives us hope is that we also see the propensity people have to love, to come together and unite in the face of discrimination, prejudice and hate.
In 2022 it has once again been a busy year for us here at SARI, and as such we have faced a range of new challenges when it comes to tackling hate crime across Avon and Somerset.
We started the year by welcoming our new assistant director, Victoria Phair, whose background in leadership in education and specialist knowledge in this area has been immensely valuable to some of the delivery of our work this year.
As with every year, our casework team has been working tirelessly to support victims of Hate Crime, helping them find resolutions to the incidents they have been involved in, as well as empowering them.
In the last calendar year, we’ve took 786 referrals across the whole region, supporting people from many different diverse backgrounds. Of these cases that we have opened we’ve seen a rise in referrals coming in from the Somerset area. This is due to our Team Leader and Outreach Development worker for the area building up strong relationships with the police, housing and other community organisations feeling confident to refer into our service.
Our statistics also seem to mirror the national picture where the number of hate crimes being recorded by the Home Office has increased. This could be for a number of reasons. It could be that more hate crimes are happening. Or it could be due to more awareness of the importance of reporting and getting support, which has led to more realistic recording.
In year ending March 2022, there were 155,841 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 26% from the year ending March 2021 (124,104 offences). There were 109,843 race hate crimes, 8,730 religious hate crimes, 26,152 sexual orientation hate crimes, 14,242 disability hate crimes and 4,355 transgender hate crimes in year ending March 2022. It’s important to remember that behind these statistics are people whose lives have been impacted by the devastating effects of Hate Crime.
Elsewhere in the charity our Outreach and Development team have been working to spread awareness of SARI and how to support victims of hate crime across the areas of Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and Somerset. They have done this through delivering awareness sessions to organisations, giving teacher training sessions and more recently have created an Anti-Hate Allies Network to give prominent members of their community the tools to best recognise and support those who have been victims of hate crime.
We have also put a real focus into our LGBTQ+ work in the organisation. This has included participating in various meetings and forums across the whole of Avon & Somerset to make sure that LGBTQ+ voices are being amplified. We’ve been leading on work to develop LGBTQ+ Networks across Somerset and BANES with our partners at the Diversity Trust. As well as this we have our dedicated LGBTQ+ caseworker for Bristol, who has been in post since October 2021 and has been working closely with victims in the area alongside creating a wider network of resources to aid our LGBTQ+ focused work.
Another area for SARI this year was to reengage with people seeking sanctuary in the Avon & Somerset area. This was one of the key areas our co-director Alex Raikes MBE DL wanted to highlight in her role as High Sheriff for the year, as it was an area which had been strongly impacted since the pandemic first started and due to some of the negative political rhetoric. As a result, we have built up strong ties with Bristol Mind, Borderlands, Bristol Refugee Rights and the Hope Service to best support those people who are being hosted in the region. We have also now started to see referrals come from people from these communities and accessing our support.
Thanks to our partnership with Brandon Trust, Bristol Mind, OTR, Resolve West and Bristol Law Centre, we have been able to provide well-rounded support to residents of Bristol through our Bristol Hate Crime Discrimination Service (BHCDS). This has also included delivering sessions jointly with our partners to empower communities and businesses on how to best support victims and give them the tools to report Hate Crimes.We are incredibly grateful to the Bristol City Council Impact Fund for funding this vital work.
We are also indebted to South Gloucestershire Council for increasing our funding to cover the costs of the full-time service needed in the area.
As is always the case with the work we do here at SARI, it would not be possible without our funders and all the generous donations we receive throughout the year. We wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you – with your generosity – you are helping to positively impact the lives of hundreds of people.
So from everyone at SARI we would like to say a huge thank you for your continued support in helping fight hate crime.