Hate Crime Forum
Hate Crime is an issue that transcends strands and communities. it happens throughout numerous communities and to individuals from all walks of life. Among the key objectives of the Hate Crime Forum is to work in partnership with the Community Based Crime Delivery Group, which has responsibility of developing, implementing and monitoring the Hate Crime Strategy of the Safer Reading Partnership.
Organisations participating the Hate Crime Forum will be trained to encourage reporting, act as Third Party Reporting Centres, and be able to provide initial support to victims as their complaints are channelled to the appropriate authorities.
Equalities Alliance Hate Crime Forum – is a community led initiative designed to facilitate dialogue between victims of Hate Crime, voluntary or community organisations that support them, and the ‘Safer Reading – Community Safety Partnership’ which includes Thames Valley Police, Reading Borough Council and other statutory agencies with enforcement powers.
Collaboration amongst representatives and members of The Equalities Alliance is essential and pivotal to the success of the initiative. The focus of The Equalities Alliance and its work is to discover and build upon commonalities and empathy for groups and individuals tribulations and work towards equality for all holistically.
Community cohesion is fostered by opportunities to meet with different groups, talk and learn about other groups and cultures. Events are great facilitators of community cohesion. The Reading Half Marathon and Reading Carnival are great examples of events that encourage community bonding. It is also enhanced by opportunities to meet and chat, and by dispelling myths ans stereotypes, raising public awareness and knowledge of local equality issues, signposting and by creating positive local news stories.
Awareness and Education
Across the spectrum, there seems to be a general lack of public awareness of equality issues, of existing local provisions, and of a need to challenge common assumptions that, due to legislation, equality has been achieved. A common misconception is that equality equals race or gender equality only.
There is a need to educate the public and promote understanding between the nine characteristics of equality, for example through reinforcing positive narratives, and countering the increasing acceptability of derogatory slang language and political correctness backlash. Raising public awareness and knowledge of diversity and equality ties in with the need to challenge negative stereotypes and dispel myths.
Stereotyping and Unconscious Bias
A rising acceptability of negative stereotypes and narratives have not been challenged partly due to lack of funding and support in the community. The Equalities Alliance can speak with authority, question the acceptance of negative stereotypes, provide examples which quash these assumptions and offer alternative positive portrayals of groups and individuals affected, and also publish testimonials and evidence of how negative stereotypes can affect those who are subjected to it.
We launched the #SeeMe campaign, in a bid to visually highlight how far from the truth stereotypes can be. #SeeMe aims to highlight obvious stereotypes based on protected strands, but also how more subtle differences such as your hair colour, your employment status, your postcode, political identity or level of education can engender discrimination.
Human Trafficking, Modern Day Slavery, FGM
With the diverse makeup of Reading, also come some under the radar endemic human rights abuses and exploitation of vulnerable people. In a police raid of two Reading brothels, eleven foreign women were found, believed to have been trafficked for sexual exploitation. It is not only foreign citizens who are trafficked, UK citizens are also targeted and trafficked in Berkshire. Last year 25 women were released from modern day slavery and forced labour. There is an urgent need for raising awareness of this complex problem among the local and business community. A third of all injury assaults in the Thames Valley are made up of domestic abuse victims, honour based violence and coercive control.
It is of the utmost importance for The Equalities Alliance to create a dialogue around these grave human rights abuses, giving a voice to those who don’t have one, and apply pressure on decision makers to address these issues.
Develop Your Skills and Knowledge
The Equalities Alliance aims to provide training in diversity and awareness of the nine equality characteristics. We can promote and broker training offered by partners of The Equalities Alliance to local service providers. Examples include:
- Introduction to Safeguarding delivered by Reading Children and Voluntary Youth Services (RCVYS)
- The Hate Crime Strategy promoted by the Community Crime Group.
The Equalities Alliance can create bespoke training offers for local businesses, front line public service providers, and key stakeholders in the community. This training will offer expertise with specific local insight that could prove a competitive alternative to expensive corporate training.
Celebrate Reading’s Year of Culture
There are plenty of events representing the diverse communities in Reading to celebrate. Others that are not happening can be rejuvenated:
- Think creatively about sharing venues, and opportunities for pan-equality discussions
- Know your neighbour – a pan-equality event to celebrate and promote all the different characteristics of equality
- 2016 Reading’s Year of Culture – this is a great opportunity to showcase the wealth of customs, traditions, ethnicities and culture which is the fabric of The Equalities Alliance