The borough of Rochdale has blown the whistle on hate crime and launched a week of action with a wheelchair rugby match at Rochdale Leisure Centre.
Representatives from Rochdale Borough Council, Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG) and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) took on the Rochdale Hornets Wheelchair Rugby Team in a match aimed at highlighting disability awareness and celebrating diversity.
'Wheelchair rugby is a great sport that offers many benefits'
During the session the participants practised wheelchair manoeuvres and learned the rules of the game before taking part in several matches. The aim of the game, which can be played by people of any age, gender or ability, is to carry the ball over the opposing team's goal line to score a point.
Caen Matthews, Rochdale Hornets Wheelchair Rugby team captain said "Wheelchair rugby is a great sport that offers many benefits and the Hornets team covers every corner of our community. It is great to see people coming together and enjoying a sporting activity that is open to able-bodied and players with disabilities alike."
The match was held as part of the fifth annual Greater Manchester wide 'Let's End Hate Crime Week' to challenge perceptions, encourage reporting and promote tolerance and respect. Other awareness raising events are also taking place across the borough.
'Encouraging equality and making a stand against hate crime'
Councillor Daalat Ali, Rochdale Borough Council's cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community, said: "Playing wheelchair rugby was an interesting and fun way for Rochdale organisations to come together to encourage equality and make a stand against hate crime. I really enjoyed learning how to play and I was glad that although there were lots of scary crashes there were no major injuries"
Dr Chris Duffy local GP and NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group chair took part in the event and said: "Taking part in the wheelchair rugby event was extremely fun and challenging at the same time! Raising awareness for Hate Crime Awareness Week is a great opportunity to celebrate diversity and bring together the local community."
Sergeant Carl O'Brien from Greater Manchester Police, who took part in the event, said: "As part of our continued commitment to combat all types of hate crime, officers from Rochdale along with partners from the Council, took part in a game of wheelchair rugby to help raise awareness of the various types of hate crime experienced by members of our community. As well as taking part in the match, which gave us an insight as to what it is like to be in a wheelchair, we also had the chance to give advice out to participants and spectators about hate crime while we were there.
'Bringing the local community together.'
"This forms part of Hate Crime Awareness Week which runs until Sunday. Throughout the week events are taking place across the borough, with staff out in the community at supermarkets and various other locations. These events give us the opportunity to share important information about hate crime, what it is and how to report it. Receiving reports helps us to understand the level of hate crime in the area and allows us to deal with crimes and hate incidents that occur in our neighbourhoods."
Information about hate crime, what it is and how to report it was also distributed to the team.
Training for the Rochdale Hornets Wheelchair Rugby team takes place every Monday from 7 – 8pm. Residents who would like to take part should contact Caen.Matthews@Rochdale.Gov.UK
To report hate crime and find out what's happening in your area to tackle it, visit
Let's End Hate Crime. You can also report it by calling the police on 101.