An Appeal from Southend Mencap
Why would someone think it is acceptable to abuse another person simply because of the way they looked or sounded?
That was the question representatives from over a dozen organisations supporting people with learning disabilities in the south east of Essex were trying to work out at a partnership working group led by Southend Mencap.
Sadly hate crime and abuse against people with learning disabilities, as well as other disabilities, is far too common a problem.
But when compared to the number of incidents actually reported to the police there is an alarming gap.
Without the confidence and support to be able to deal with the abuse against them there is a risk the learning disabled will start to see the abuse directed towards them as part of their daily lives.
However, there are now numerous projects and initiatives happening all over the county to educate the learning disabled about how to report hate crime incidents and to educate the general public about this very disturbing issue.
Essex Police is also working on its processes for supporting victims with a disability to ensure that they receive the best possible support and service.
Hate crime workshops are being delivered to children in a variety of schools throughout Essex - „Train the Trainer‟ courses are being delivered to the learning disabled to raise their awareness on keeping safe, Ask SAL (telephone number 08452-666663) is the 24-hour telephone helpline that is run in partnership with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Essex County Council (through the Essex Safeguarding Adults Board) and Thurrock Council, and provides support to people being abused as well as guidance on how to report abuse and the „Adult Abuse is Wrong‟ booklet is available to download from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council‟s website.
Reducing hate crime and abuse will take time and it‟s not inconceivable to say that it will never be completely eradicated.
However, the excellent work already being carried out by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and The Be Safer Project in Essex, coupled with the number of new initiatives in the pipeline, means the future for the learning disabled seems a lot brighter.
Joe Dorado, President of Southend Mencap, said: “Hate crime cannot be dealt with by one organisation. The seriousness of this issue is such that it requires multi-agency and community commitment.”
Katharine Washbrook, Be Safer Project Partnership Support Officer for South & Mid Essex, said: “Many people with a learning disability tolerate anti-social treatment that others wouldn't put up with.
“We need to work together to start to change this, which is why the Be Safer Project is pleased to be working with our partners in south east Essex to make a positive difference in the community for people with a learning disability.”
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council‟s Corporate Director for Adult & Community Services, Simon Leftley, said: “It‟s clear that hate crime is an extremely serious issue that requires all of us to work together.
“I am very pleased that the Council is working with Southend Mencap, Essex Police, South Essex Homes and the Southend Association for Voluntary Services to support victims of hate crime. I would urge anyone who is suffering from this appalling form of abuse to seek help immediately so that we can give them the support they need.”
Southend Police Hate Crime Liaison Officer, PC Emma Makey, said: “Essex Police needs to work closely with its partners to ensure that all hate crime victims receive a good quality service and the support they require to ensure their long term safety.
“Disability hate crime is very much under reported. Working with other organisations is definitely a positive step forward in terms of increasing awareness of the issue and public confidence in reporting such crimes.”
If you see someone with a disability being abused either verbally or physically, please don‟t walk away. They need your support at that moment in time to stop the current abuse. Find out their name, where they live, whether they have a contact telephone number you can call.
Please help us reduce hate crime.
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