Residents in South Tyneside are being urged to come together to stamp out hate crime as part of this year's National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
The week, which runs from 12 - 19 October, aims to tackle hate crime by raising awareness of the issue, highlighting its impact on individuals and demonstrating why it is important to report incidents.
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.
To tackle hate crime, the Council has joined forces with Northumbria Police to create Workplace Hate Crime Champions. These people are responsible for raising awareness of hate crime in the workplace, signposting colleagues affected by the issue to advice and support centres and acting as the main point of contact within their organisation.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "Hate crime can cause untold misery for those affected by it and we are committed to eradicating it in the Borough.
"By providing our champions with a better understanding of the impact of hate crime we can ensure the services we provide to victims are continually developed and improved."
Chief Inspector Nicola Wearing, lead for hate crime in Sunderland and South Tyneside, said: "It is totally unacceptable to abuse somebody because of who they are whether it be their race, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, transgender identity or any other protected characteristic.
"Hate crime is something we believe has sadly been under-reported for some time, but across Northumbria we have worked extremely hard to give victims the confidence to come forward with improvements in how we understand and record hate crime and by continuing to work closely with community groups.
"The 'Hate Crime Champions' scheme means businesses or groups can have nominated champions in their organisation who can support and advise people who may have been a victim to these types of offences.
"Victims can then speak to a friendly face in a safe, secure environment and can receive advice on how to report what has happened to them, or how they may be able to get specialist support."
As part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, the Council is supporting Wear Red Day on Friday 18 October. The day is organised by anti-racism educational charity Show Racism the Red Card which is calling on schools, workplaces and individuals to wear something red on the day and raise funds for the charity.
Ged Grebby, Chief Executive of Show Racism the Red Card, said: "We're delighted to have the support of South Tyneside Council for this year's Wear Red Day. The day is all about standing together against racism and sending a very visual message that racism will not be tolerated. As well as wearing red, we're asking people to donate £1 and this will help us deliver anti-racism education to more young people across the country. Anyone can join in - simply wear something red on 18 October and donate £1 to help us tackle racism in society."
To donate £1 to Show Racism the Red Card text 'RED' to 70470 - the text will cost £1 plus your standard rate message. People can also support Wear Red Day by using the hashtag #WRD19 on social media.
Anyone who witnesses or is affected by hate crime is encouraged to report it by calling the Police on 101.