Reflecting on Race Equality Week 2022

Last week we marked Race Equality Week 2022. One of our members, the Dorset Race Equality Council (DREC), has been at the forefront of bringing the annual UK-wide movement to Dorset, hoping to be a catalyst for race equality in the workplace.

What is Race Equality Week?

This year, thousands of organisations joined together in solidarity with one mission in mind: eradicating barriers to race equality within their own work environment. The Black Lives Matter movement at the height of the pandemic proved that actions speak louder than words. Therefore, this year’s awareness week was focused on organisations taking #ActionNotJustWords. Now is the time to be proactive, in a huge push towards a more equal United Kingdom.

Taking part in Race Equality Week is crucial to making sure everyone, of all races and ethnic backgrounds, can thrive. The week provides a space to hold serious conversation and inspire definitive action. With power in numbers and growing awareness, stamping out discrimination and racism within the workplace is achievable, and it’s happening now!

Individuals as well as organisations across the UK got involved by implementing Race Equality Matters Solutions, joining public events, running their own activities, and sponsoring Race Equality Week. This week happens annually, but hard work across the UK should continue every day, so that total race equality can be our reality.

Race Equality Week in Dorset

DREC spent this year’s Race Equality Week giving light to many exciting initiatives. The organisation showcased a passionate new ambassador – who shared exactly why she believes race equality is so important.

The work didn’t stop there, however, as awareness was brought to the powerful and inspiring work of caseworkers to support victims of harassment. Giving a voice to people with lived experiences of race inequality is always a step in the right direction, so DREC gave opportunity to their clients to tell their own encounters with racism.

DREC feels strongly about celebrating our differences rather than hating them, as diversity enriches our culture. The EU Settlement Scheme is crucial to making Europeans feel at home in the UK after Brexit, and so the scheme’s Officer shared her story of applying for immigration status.

The final post for DREC’s Race Equality Week was about the Prostate Cancer in Black men Project: creating awareness of the increased risk of Black men developing the disease, offering education and guidance on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Overall, an encouraging and successful awareness week at DREC.

Spreading the love, street by street

Organisations from across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole – including BCP Council, faith groups, schools and businesses – are joining forces to help residents renew their sense of belonging, support and friendliness, which they experienced during the first COVID-19 lockdown.

As part of the BCP council area’s ‘As One’ campaign, the message ‘Fill your street with friendliness’ will be displayed from Valentine’s Day onwards, on hundreds of large banners across the borough. From the spring, dozens of local As One events will be held to help the message take root in each locality.

The idea is to encourage a sense of connection, kindness, friendliness and belonging between people who live on the same street – and aims to be a huge boost for elderly people, young families, single people and essentially everyone!

Dozens of churches and other faith groups, community centres and other BCP area partners are preparing to host ‘As One’ Tea Party events, each for their own neighbourhood. There, residents from each local street will be introduced to the idea of starting a Street Association for their own street, with the aim of keeping the friendliness going long after the pandemic has ended.

In many local areas, an As One memorial service will also be held, ahead of the tea party, to remember the anxiety, isolation, loss and bereavement experienced by so many over the last two years – and to help bring a measure of peace and ‘closure’. The subsequent tea party then seeks to focus on the key ‘positive’ of the pandemic: the burst of community spirit – and help it flourish for the long term.

The two-metre banner, introducing a design which is being picked up in other parts of the UK, focuses its encouragement on ‘your street’ – as Street Associations led by local residents have been shown over 10 years to be a popular way of getting people together. They encourage residents to organise events like a children’s party, a barbecue, quiz night or a trip away – just for one’s own street.

With an agenda of ‘friendship, fun, belonging, a helping hand’, the prize is that everyone gradually gets to know everyone, friendliness is released, isolation is addressed, fun is had and practical help flows to residents who may need it. Community events are anticipated to take place from the spring, with the Platinum Jubilee as a key incentive to get neighbourly communication going in time. The strap-line for Street Associations is ‘Love my street’, making a Valentine’s Day launch most appropriate!

Residents are encouraged to find out more about starting a Street Association where they live – see as-one.uk/bcp for more details of how to get it going. There is also an invitation to help spread the As One vision on social media:

Councillor Jane Kelly, Lead Member for Communities, BCP Council, says:  “I fully support the As One initiative.  BCP Council has an ambition to create vibrant communities where everyone plays an active role and feels a sense of pride where they live, and As One really supports that.

“We have seen a growth of friendships, mutual support, and a sense of community in individual community areas during lockdown and in responding to the pandemic, and As One across the BCP Council area will ensure that we maintain that as we come out of COVID-19 restrictions and move ‘back to normal’. I would encourage every resident across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to find out more about Street Associations, and, with others in their road, to be involved in this simple way of bringing people together at the most local of levels.”

The Rt Revd Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne and acting Bishop of Salisbury, says, “In these days of fruitful partnerships between churches and civic authorities, I was delighted when the diocesan Aldhelm Fund awarded a grant of £5000 to the As One initiative for the BCP area.

“As Christians, we obviously give a high priority to loving our neighbours, and an increase in the number of Street Associations can only lead to real friendships and a growing sense of community at street level. The prospect of neighbours, of all faiths and none, becoming friends in the road where they live can lead to all sorts of transformative action.”

As One BCP is part of pioneering As One UK, along with Worcestershire, Birmingham and Dudley in the first ‘wave’ – with other towns, cities and counties preparing to take part.  It draws from Birmingham’s successful 2018-20 ‘Permission to Smile’ campaign.

ContactsJulie Munson, for BCP Council, julie.munson@bcpcouncil.gov.uk; Paul Hockley, BCP churches-based local coordinator, bcp@as-one.uk, 01202 730626; Martin Graham, As One UK office@as-one.uk, 07931 282716.

David Sidwick: Hate crime has no place in our society

By David Sidwick, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset

As we reflect on national Hate Crime Awareness Week, I wanted to dedicate my blog to raising awareness and encouraging the reporting of this offence to the police.

Let me begin by saying that hate crime, in any form, is abhorrent, the ignorance and prejudice that the perpetrators of this crime have no place in our society.

Home Office statistics say that nationally, there were 124,091 hate crimes recorded in the year to March 2021 – 92,052 race hate crimes, 6,377 religious hate crimes, 18,596 sexual-orientation hate crimes, 9,943 disability hate crimes and 2,799 transgender hate crimes.

To see a figure of over 92,000 race hate crimes is concerning, especially during Black History Month, an event which is all about understanding, learning and celebrating the contributions made to our society by African, Asian and Caribbean people.

However, I would like to pick up on one specific type of hate crime which I feel rarely gets the attention and coverage that it should – disability hate crime.

Disability hate crime has had the largest percentage increase of all hate crimes in Dorset and is largely forgotten.

Giving victims a voice and raising awareness of the effects of disability hate crime is a key factor in tacking the issue. My office is currently working with the Force on making a short film where local people share their experiences and talk about the impact of hate crime on them.

To have people with a diverse range of protected characteristics talking about how they have been affected will, I hope, be a powerful and encouraging motivator to others who have experienced hate crime but not felt able to report it to the police.

The OPCC funds Restorative Justice, a victim-focused scheme by which victims tell offenders the real impact of their crime and as part of that scheme, a Hate Crime Awareness Course is being developed to deal with low-level hate crime cases. This is to challenge perpetrators on the impact of their behaviour both on victims and on themselves.

This course uses examples of hate crime and how it affected victims, and it works with perpetrators to identify how they might behave differently in future. If victims want it, feedback is given to them on the outcome of the course.

In response to the increase in the number of hate crimes being reported, the Home Office said the rise have been driven by improvements in recording, growing awareness, and a better identification of what constitutes a hate crime.

Increased reporting helps the police understand what is happening in our communities and how best to tackle it – so please – report hate crime.

I want people to know that hate crime has no place in Dorset and that I will work tirelessly to encourage tolerance, acceptance, kindness and understanding across our county – after all, the only true measure of goodness is the nobility of the human heart.

Hate Crime Awareness Week ends

During this year’s national Hate Crime Awareness Week (HCAW), Prejudice Free Dorset organised several events.

Dr Raymond Davies, Chair of the PFD Business Sub-group, spoke at the Bournemouth Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday 13th October, highlighting the importance of collaboration between PFD and businesses across Dorset.

Dr Davies then continued the activates on Thursday 14th October and said he was “looking forward to being on Falkland Square to hand out Prejudice Free Dorset leaflets to the general public as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week along with BCP Council staff, National Trust staff and Dorset Police.”

They reported that local businesses were very keen to get involved in raising awareness of PFD and how to report a hate crime. This was an initiative of the PFD Business Sub-group, and forms part of our strategy for the integration of the Dorset business community.

Although HCAW 2021 is coming to an end, the PFD Business Sub-group will be targeting Poole in 2022, coinciding with the PFD Conference in March. The group is planning a full day of activities at Poole Bus Station, the Dolphin Shopping Centre and along the High Street.

People First Forum: A safe place for all

Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer, in conversation with Amanda and Paul from PFD member People First Forum

For national Hate Crime Awareness Week, Prejudice Free Dorset talked to Amanda Frost and Paul Thomas from PFD member People First Forum (PFF), an organisation which gives adults with learning disabilities a voice in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

As Amanda and Paul explain, members can benefit from keepsake advice, help if they are victims of a hate crime, and access to a safe space. PFF works with services such as Dorset Police to ensure adults with learning disabilities are safe and free from prejudice. Watch the full interview with Amanda and Paul below.

PFD’s members include statutory public bodies, charities, as well as community and voluntary groups. Read more about them here.

A guide to 3rd party reporting

During Hate Crime Awareness Week, Prejudice Free Dorset is raising awareness of the important role third party reporting centres play in combatting hate crime.

Is your organisation interested in becoming a third party reporting centre? Watch the video below to hear from Nathalie Sherring, Chief Executive of PFD member Dorset Race Equality Council, about what the role entails.

Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer, in conversation with Nathalie Sherring, Chief Executive of DREC

Kushti Bok: Giving gypsies & travellers a voice

Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer, in conversation with Betty Smith-Billington, Chair of Kushti Bok Dorset

Ahead of national Hate Crime Awareness Week, Prejudice Free Dorset caught up with Betty Smith-Billington, Chair of long-standing member Kushti Bok Dorset.

As Betty explains, Kushti Bok is a volunteer-led organisation which helps ensure gypsies and travellers in Dorset have a voice. These minorities are still wrongly targeted with negative labels and media attention, and Kushti Bok sheds light on these issues.

Organisations of this type are few and far between, and so their work is not only important, but also progressive. Watch the full interview with Betty below.

PFD’s members include statutory public bodies, charities, as well as community and voluntary groups. Read more about them here.

Supt Gemma Morris on joining PFD

The newly appointed Chair of PFD, Supt Gemma Morris, reflects on her vast experience and ongoing commitment to tackling hate crime in Dorset.

By Superintendent Gemma Morris, Dorset Police

Having grown up in Dorset, I first served with Surrey Police for ten years before transferring back to Dorset in 2009. In both forces I have undertaken roles across a range of policing disciplines.

My first post within Dorset Police was Head of Community Engagement. In this role I was involved in producing Dorset Police’s response to the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) Disability Harassment Inquiry and the implementation of the Police Service Equality Standard. 

The role also incorporated Public Confidence, Neighbourhood Policing, Equality and Diversity and working with Independent Advisory Groups, as well as various other groups representing seldom heard communities and those protected under the Equality Act 2010. 

I have undertaken a range of roles within Neighbourhood Policing in both Surrey and Dorset, which has given me experience in both rural and urban policing environments.

At Surrey Police I worked as part of the National Reassurance Policing Programme; and at Dorset Police I led a review of Neighbourhood Policing and held geographic responsibility for the West of Dorset during the Olympic Games in 2012.

I am an accredited detective with experience as a tactical firearms commander, as well as a kidnap and extortion-trained senior investigating officer. I have held the posts of Director of Investigations for Dorset Police and most recently as the Director of Public Protection, where I worked closely with partners to safeguard and protect our most vulnerable victims and communities.

In my current role I am responsible for Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Partnerships and Safeguarding for the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole local policing area. I am also Dorset Police’s strategic lead for Hate Crime.

I am pleased to be taking over the role of Chair of Prejudice Free Dorset (PFD) and would like to start by formally recognising and thanking all of the current members of the collective for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to date.

I look forward to working with those groups and individuals who are currently members and hope we can continue to encourage wider engagement, representation and broaden participation in the future.

I am passionate about seeking to understand the lived experience of victims of crime and of the communities we serve. This will help us to improve the quality of service offered by the police and that of the PFD. Through our work we will continue to listen to communities and make sure everyone has the opportunity to influence the priorities and activities of PFD.

Finally I’d like to highlight that this week is Hate Crime Awareness Week. It is a week to focus our attention on making sure people who have been subjected to hate crime or who experience hate incidents feel confident in reporting to the Police or through a third party.

Hate does not belong in Dorset. Any crime which is perceived to have been motivated by hostility or prejudice based on someone’s race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, or transgender identity is a hate crime.

We want victims or witnesses to report it. We all have a part to play in ending hate crime and hate incidents. An increase in reporting helps us, the police, to understand what is happening in our communities and how best to tackle it.

You can report hate crime in numerous ways – online, by calling 101, visiting your local police station or talking to a third party who will report the incident on your behalf.

Workshop for housing associations

By Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer

Following on from Prejudice Free Dorset’s No Place for Hate 2019 Conference, there was an action to hold an event for housing association staff. The request had come through from several sources, and housing associations, who had attended the event.

The initial event was planned to be in May 2020, as a face-to-face workshop session. Unsurprisingly, this event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are finally delighted to be able to offer it again via Teams to our housing association partners.

A workshop session via Teams is being held on the afternoon of Monday 11th October, during Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The session will provide attendees with the following:

  • A better knowledge of what Prejudice Free Dorset is
  • A better awareness of unconscious bias held potentially by staff and residents, and how to recognise this
  • How a housing association may be able to help tenants who are victimised by prejudice
  • What a third-party reporting centre is and how a housing association may become one.

The workshop session will include personal stories of people affected by prejudice, hate crimes or hate incidents.

Five different housing associations and housing providers are currently signed up to be attending with lots of staff members – and the PFD members providing the training, through the workshop, are looking forward to raising their awareness during this session.

We will be asking attending staff for feedback from the session and will update the website, in due course, with feedback from the workshop.

To find out more or sign up for the session on Monday 11th, get in touch!

Want to become a Prison Officer?

Want to learn more about being a Prison Officer? Perhaps you’re looking for a new career?

Come along to a free online event on July 1st, to hear more about this fascinating role from officers at HMP Exeter and HMP Channings Wood – and to learn more about careers within Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

You will have the chance to hear first-hand from the Governor and a prison officer about:

  • What it’s like to work for HMP Exeter & HMP Channings Wood
  • Careers within HMPPS
  • HMPPS’ next recruitment campaign
  • The application process.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions, as part of a Q&A session.

If you would like to attend, please register your interest via Eventbrite.