Longsight residents found out how deaf people are subjected to hate crimes as part of a week of action to raise awareness of the problem.
More than 100 residents attended the event at Longsight library opened by Chief Inspector Helen Caldbeck who explained what hate crime is and how Greater Manchester Police tackle it.
Richard Jones, manager of the Manchester Deaf Centre – which is set to become one of the city’s third party reporting centres– spoke at the event.
Third party reporting centres are safe and neutral locations where victims can report hate crime without having to visit a police station, and staff at the Manchester Deaf Centre are now receiving training to enable them to do this.
He said: “Deaf people suffer hate crime almost daily through being different from the mainstream society. Deaf people are invisible until they communicate in sign language which makes them a target of mockery and harassment. Not only that, deaf people have their houses vandalised, thus disrupting their daily lives.
“Most people may not be aware that deaf people suffer in this way and Hate Crime Week has been a great opportunity to raise awareness”.
The event was part of Manchester Hate Crime Week, launched at Afflecks Palace in Manchester city centre, where former Apprentice contestant Sanjay Sood-Smith, as well as Sylvia Lancaster, mother of murder victim Sophie Lancaster, talked about their Hate Crime experiences.
Dozens of residents’ groups across the city have held events throughout hate crime awareness week to help their neighbours understand the issue.
The events, funded by grants provided by the City Council and supported by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the Police and Crime Commissioner, also included:
· The Nigerian Women’s Group: an event and quiz to explore what a hate crime is and how to get support, at the Moss Side Fire Station.
· The Miners Community Arts and Music Centre in Moston: an exhibition about how artists interpret hate crime.
· The Manchester Muslim Writers group: an anti-Islamophobia event to raise awareness of hate crime through creative writing and poetry at Chorlton Library.
· Wythenshawe Community Media: radio events and discussions throughout the week.
. The LGBT Centre in Sidney Street, Ardwick: an open day exploring what hate crime is and how it can be dealt with.
. The Mancunian Way charity: sessions across the city in which young people created a film looking at the issues which was shown at the launch and throughout the week.
The City Council, along with GMP and the Crown Prosecution Service, held the first hate crime awareness week in 2012, but organisers have begun working with a larger number of groups across the city since then.
Councillor Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council’s executive member for neighbourhood services, said: “Hate crime can take many forms, and anyone can be a victim, but it is never acceptable and has no place in our diverse and thriving city.
“That abuse that people with disabilities such as deafness face on a regular basis is shocking, and this event was another reminder of why we need to continue working with a wide range of groups to make sure that hate crime is always challenged, and why we must continue to raise awareness of this issue and encourage victims to come forward.”
Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “Across Greater Manchester, police and other organisations have been working extremely hard to raise awareness of the issue, and I urge victims to come forward and report incidents with the confidence that they will be listened to and taken seriously.
“Celebrating diversity is a sign of a decent, tolerant society; hatred of people’s differences is ignorant and perverse. Such attitudes are highly damaging to individuals and our communities as a whole. Let’s keep talking about it, keep reporting it, and together we can send a message that such attitudes have no place in our cities and towns.”
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, GMP’s lead on hate crime, said: “I want the message to get through really clearly that we will not tolerate any offence of this kind, whether it is motivated by a victim’s alternative sub-culture, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
“We need to continue to do more to encourage reporting from all communities, and we are currently doing a lot of work to raise awareness of our third party reporting centres, which people can attend if they would rather not go to a police station.
“Hate crime undermines the energy and richness that is an essential part of life in Greater Manchester, and I would ask anyone who suffers a crime motivated by hate to come forward, as all reports will be thoroughly investigated.”