Spotlight to be Shone on Hate Crime
A conference on hate crime will be hosted by South Tyneside Council in partnership with South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board next week.
Around 100 people are expected to attend the event, which will focus on identifying and tackling hate crime.
Professionals from organisations including Show Racism the Red Card, Northumbria Police, South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board and disability charity Your Voice Counts will share best practice around spotting the signs, raising awareness and addressing hate crime.
People who have also been victims will share their experiences to help increase understanding of the issue.
Hate crime includes any criminal offence targeted at someone that is fuelled by hostility or prejudice related to a person's disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity. It can range from verbal or physical abuse to bullying, graffiti or damage to property.
Chloe Douds, who is physically disabled and has autism, will share her experiences at the conference.
The 24-year-old, who now works for Your Voice Counts, said: "Unfortunately, I've suffered hate crime all my life. Having a physical, visible disability makes you an easy target and I've had many occasions of people shouting out insults on the street.
"It has a huge impact on victims; I am still affected by things that happened to me when I was eight or nine years old - I will still cross the road to avoid groups of teenagers.
"Victims often don't report incidents for a variety of reasons, often because sadly the person carrying out the crimes are people they know, and they fear it may affect their care.
"But it's very important that they do because currently the statistics are nowhere near a true representation of how much hate crime goes on."
Chloe adds: "Education is key, the younger children are taught about kindness and inclusivity, the more accepting they will be."
The conference, which will be held at South Shields Town Hall next Tuesday, comes just before Hate Crime Awareness Week, which runs from 14-21 October.
Cllr Jim Foreman, Lead Member for Housing and Community Safety, said: "As an organisation, we are committed to equality and inclusivity and we pride ourselves on being such a diverse borough.
"There is simply no place for hate. Promoting tolerance, acceptance and kindness is crucial so that everyone feels safe in our communities.
"We know that these kind of crimes can go unreported so it's important that we deepen our understanding and awareness and ensure victims have the confidence to come forward."
For further information, including how to report a hate crime, visit Why it's important to report a Hate Crime or Hate Incident - South Tyneside Council