National Hate Crime Awareness Week - Interview with founder, Mark Healey
In the UK, National Hate Crime Awareness Week takes place every October. Starting on the second Saturday of the month, it is a national week of action to encourage local authorities, key partners and communities affected by hate crime to work together to tackle local hate crime.
We caught up with founder, Mark Healey, who set up the initiative. Mark told us that the week was first set up as a response to a magazine article published in 2009, 10 years after the London nail bomb attacks on Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho, which said that the anniversaries should be played down. Disagreeing with this, Mark set up a Facebook group as a safe space for people who had experienced the attacks. In under one month 2,000 people had joined the group and ‘17-24-30’ (which would later become ‘17-24-30 National Hate Crime Awareness Week’) was formed – named after the three dates on which the nail bomb attacks took place.
Later in 2009, Ian Baynham, a 62-year-old gay man, died as a result of injuries sustained in a homophobic attack in Trafalgar Square, and Mark organised a vigil there for people from all sections of the community to come together to show that there is ‘No Place for Hate’. Around 10,000 people attended the event, triggering a domino effect of similar vigils being set up across the UK and as far as Canada.
The London vigils continued between 2009 and 2012 but attendance trailed off. Mark supposes that this was because people tend to engage more when there has been a major incident. Determined to do something to stop hate crimes and incidents, in 2012, Mark came up with a new way of getting the powerful message that there is ‘No Place for Hate’ across and ’17-24-30 National Hate Crime Awareness Week’ was born.
The week is now used as a starting point to launch a year of action to spread a message of HOPE: Raising Hate crime awareness, improving Operational responses to hate crime, Preventing hate crime and Engaging communities. Beginning with an annual ‘Act of Hope and Remembrance’ event at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, the message is clear that we can end hate - but everyone has a role to play.
Swan has a long-standing commitment to working in partnership to tackle hate crime and has taken part in National Hate Crime Awareness Week for many years. Pete Morley-Watts, Executive Director of Customer Experience for Swan Housing Association, said:
“At Swan Housing Association, we are clear that there is no place for hate. We are committed to working with our partners to create cohesive communities where everyone feels at home. Our dedicated Anti-social behaviour team is here to support any of our customers or employees who are affected by hate crime or incidents.”
You can find out how to report a hate crime and how Swan can support you if you’ve been affected by a hate crime here: Anti-social behaviour and hate crime.
Links to hate crime reporting sites across the UK are available here.