Black Roses event helps highlight dangers of hate crime, published 19/11/2019

Published Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Twelve years after her daughter Sophie’s death, Sylvia Lancaster OBE is still campaigning to stamp out prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures.

Sophie was 20-years-old when she and her boyfriend Rob Maltby were attacked in a Lancashire park in 2007. As a result of her severe head injuries Sophie never regained consciousness and died 13 days later. 

Following her death, Sylvia created a lasting legacy for her daughter by setting up The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

Earlier this month representatives from The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Dena Payne and Odette Freeman, were at Brookvale Groby Learning Campus as part of an event organised by Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire Police that aimed to raise awareness of hate incidents and hate crime among young people. 

Rachel Burgess, Community Safety Manager at the Borough Council, said:

We worked with Leicestershire Police, Brookvale Groby Learning Campus and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation to put on this event for young people in our borough so that young people understand the devastating impact crimes like this have on people’s lives.

Being targeted because of who you are is unacceptable but unfortunately it is still a reality for some people. Students learned about the impact of hate crimes not only on the victims but also on their families, friends and the wider community.

250 Year 10 pupils aged 14 to 15 years old were shown the moving film Black Roses which intercuts Sylvia’s recollections of her daughter with first-person poetry written by English poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage.  

After the screening, a question and answer panel including Dena and Odette from the Foundation, Sgt Ian Tuckwood, Isla Dixon, Hate Crime Officer for Leicestershire Police and Julian Robertson, Victim Contact Officer for LCC’s Children & Family Wellbeing Service offered students and staff the chance to discuss the topic of hate crime.

Greg Godwin, Acting Senior Deputy Headteacher at Brookvale Groby Learning Campus (BGLC) said:

Being able to share Sophie Lancaster’s story with our students was incredibly powerful.  It is so important for young people growing up in a complex world to understand that hate crimes exist on our doorstep. It taught our students about how, despite the lessons learned from history, that prejudice and hate still exists in the world and in our country.
By raising their awareness, students at BGLC have learned that being different is not something to be feared or loathed, but to be appreciated and understood.  Our students didn’t shy away from this tragic story, but faced the impact of the prejudiced actions of a minority head on in order to learn the importance of empathy with all people.
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation have committed to doing everything they can to raise awareness of hate crime and educate young people so that we can work to eradicate it from society.
I urge all students to have the courage to report hate crime and play their part in stamping it out.

Sgt Ian Tuckwood of Leicestershire Police said:

This was an incredibly emotional event with a powerful message. Having the representatives from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation with their first-hand knowledge of Sophie, her family and the impact of these tragic events had on everyone provided real insight for the students. It allowed them to ask questions and get a full understanding of the effect that hate crime and intolerance has on those involved but also the wider community. Leicestershire police would encourage everyone to report hate crime and play their part in eradicating it from our society.

Isla Dixon, Hate Crime Officer for Leicestershire Police added:

I was delighted to be part of this event to raise awareness of hate crime and the impact it has on victims, their families and communities and society as a whole. The effects of hate crime can be devastating and far reaching so education is essential if we are to encourage young people to become ‘upstanders’ rather than ‘bystanders’.