‘Harms of Hate’, an event organised by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, took place at the YMCA, Hanley, on March 28 2018. The aim was to signpost services that are available in Stoke-on-Trent for victims of hate, building a community ethos and resilience around any form of hate in the city. The event, which attracted just under 200 people, was organised by Adrian Waters, Community Coordinator for Counter Extremism at Stoke-in-Trent City Council. Adrian recently spoke to our blog about how such events are helping to strengthen local communities.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Stoke-on-Trent City Council
I’m the Community Coordinator for Countering Extremism, employed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in partnership with the Home Office.
My role revolves around encouraging and developing resilience within communities against extremism and hate, countering extremism by developing and supporting positive mainstream voices, which encourage democratic processes, respect for the law and civil society and promote equality and opportunity for all.
What was the purpose of the ‘Harms of Hate’ event and how did it originate?
The event was to shine light into dark places, dispelling myths that can lead towards discrimination and hate. We aim to provide an opportunity for our city to hear the accounts of survivors of intolerance and extremism. We want to provide remembrance to victims and influence communities to recognise ‘harms of hate’ and work against them.
We look at signposting towards services that can support victims of hate. This includes organisations including Tell MAMA and Challenge North Staffs as well as Police and the City Council departments, Community Cohesion, Counter Extremism + Prevent. Ultimately we want to provide reassurance messages to communities that could be affected by extremism.
Terror threats had actually been made towards schools and colleges on the very day of the event. Nationally, threats had also been made towards Muslims. This event provided a platform to show solidarity against these threats, providing context and reassurance, advising people to carry on as normal and signposting towards services that could help them.
Which National Speakers attended the event?
Abdulla Rehman MBE, from Tell MAMA, an organisation which supports victims of Islamaphobic Hate.
Mindu Hornick, who is the last remaining Holocaust survivor in the West Midlands, spoke about her experience of living through the death-camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Suzanne Richards, talked to us about the 2015 Tunisia terror attack where she lost 3 members of her family to a Daesh affiliated terrorist, resulting in the death of 38 Western tourists in Sousse, Tunisia.
Ahmad Nawaz, spoke to us about his survival at the hands of the Taliban in at an attack on the APS school in Peshawar (December 2014) killing 132 people.
Did the event attract any other local groups, causes or organisations?
There was great representation from across the city representing the diversity of our communities. It is hard to mention everybody, but there were faith representatives, community groups, charities supporting a range of causes from Hate Crime through to LGBT issues, school, college, university groups and local / community police. The college Challenge Poland Group attended as BME and cultural associations as well as my counterparts from Rotherham and Manchester. I couldn’t have asked for a more diverse and inclusive audience.
What feedback did you receive from those who attended?
There has been a positive buzz ever since. People are still talking about it and I have to admit shedding the odd tear when remembering or recounting the experiences of our speakers. I have a strong commitment from those who attended as well as those that couldn’t make it, saying that there is support for this kind of event and that our communities want to be involved in hosting and inputting on future events. I did provide a feedback form on the night, almost unanimously all feedback returned rated all aspects very good to excellent (mostly excellent).
How would you sum up the event / it’s importance
People were moved and inspired. It has been an opportunity to galvanise the communities and organisations in the city who are already doing great work towards integration and countering harmful ideas. The Counter Extremism strategy brings with it opportunities for partnerships and resources, allowing communities to develop their own campaigns which stand up to extremism. ‘Building a Stronger Britain Together’ provides funding for communities. A number of local organisations have applied, I look forward to more seeing how Harms of Hate will benefit our partners and beneficiaries in moving this agenda forward and perhaps holding similar or linked events.
Can we expect further events down the line / how can people get in touch if they have any questions?
Yes definitely, I’m jamming ideas with friends, colleagues and partners right now. You can also watch highlights of the March event on YouTube, here. Follow me on Twitter @adrianBSBTstoke or get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org