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Drama helps locals act on disability hate crime

07 February 2018

People at drama workshop.

Local adults with learning and physical disabilities have been taking part in special drama workshops this week to learn about hate crime and how to report it.

PossAbilities, a social enterprise which supports vulnerable people, organised 4 drama workshops to take place in day centres across the borough in a bid to highlight hate crime to over 60 people with disabilities and their carers.

The workshops, run by drama practitioner Eleanor Samson, saw attendees taking part in confidence-building, warm-up exercises; talking about their feelings and role-playing potential hate crime scenarios.

Budding actors discussed what makes them sad, different types of bullying and what they should do if they encounter hate crime in the community with the overwhelming messages of ‘move away’ and ‘tell someone about it’.

'It’s all about raising awareness'

Natalie Kearns, PossAbilities activity co-ordinator, said: “Unfortunately, even now when some of our most independent service users go out in the community they can face abuse so, it’s really important that we equip them, in the best way we can, with the skills they need to identify hate crime and report it.

“The hub is a great place to broach the subject of hate crime because it’s a safe, familiar space and we hope that by talking about it and acting out scenarios here, they will know what to do should they ever face these issues in the real world. It’s all about raising awareness.”

The first workshop was held at the Cherwell Wellbeing Hub, Cherwell Avenue, Heywood. The hub is also a third party hate crime reporting centre; meaning staff at the centre can report incidents on behalf of victims and provide them with advice and support.

PossAbilities’ drama workshops were just one of 11 community schemes that received Hate Crime Awareness Week grant funding from Rochdale Borough Council to help raise awareness of what hate crime is, increase hate crime reporting and celebrate diversity in the borough’s communities.

These schemes range from information stalls to coffee mornings, film screenings and football tournaments but will all have a positive impact on local communities within the borough of Rochdale.

'Communities standing together against hate crime'

Councillor Janet Emsley, Rochdale Borough Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture, said: “Any crime or hostility targeted towards somebody because of who they are is unacceptable so, that’s why I’m extremely pleased to see our communities standing together against hate crime and doing their part to end it for good.

“Raising awareness of what hate crime is and how to report it is vitally important and will help everyone feel safer in our borough.”