Young people in County Durham are working to wipe out hate crime around gender identity, thanks to police funding.
Investing in Children, a community interest company in Durham, held a Youth Hate Crime summit in 2018 that identified Durham bus station, on North Road, as somewhere that young people had experienced hate crime related to racism, disability and gender identity.
After being awarded £7,000 from the Durham Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Community Safety Fund this summer, participants in the summit are now planning to reintroduce ‘safe spaces’ close to the bus station for young people. The project has recently launched and will be named Durham is Different (DID).
Helen Mulhearn, co-director of Investing in Children, said: “Many of the young people we work with come into Durham, and the bus station was identified as somewhere that young people could be targeted for looking or seeming ‘different’.
“They decided to look at creating a safe space and have been working with North Road Methodist Church to see if that could be a good place to have some peer mentors so that young people can come and have a cup of coffee and wait safely and confidently. It’s also a way of promoting the fact that hate crime can be reported and dealt with by the police.
“The young people are also working closely with the community liaison officer from the police force and other agencies, like the council, so that the project can have real longevity beyond the funding.”
Adam Clark, 17 one of the young people involved as a junior project worker said: “Being different doesn’t have to be a seen as a threat, being different is acceptable, in fact it is something that can be celebrated. We want to make celebrating difference more visible and help make the area safer.”
More than £140,000 in grants from the Durham Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Community Safety Fund has supported 21 community projects aimed at cutting crime and supporting victims.
The funding pot was managed by County Durham Community Foundation, with a community panel deliberating over 30 requests for funding following an open call for applications.
2019 is the fifth year that Ron Hogg, Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC), has partnered with the grant-making charity.
He said: “We’ve seen that funding local organisations that are led by people with passion and dedication can have a huge impact. These groups bring a different point of view to situations, seeing different ways to tackle issues that end up changing their local area for the better.”
Rob Johnson, project manager for Investing in Children, said: “We are very grateful to Ron Hogg and County Durham Community Foundation for the opportunity to make such a positive impact in our local community. Seeing the young people having the courage to proactively address these issues and knowing that they want to make a difference to their local community, is very inspiring. ”
Naomi Stevens, donor services manager for County Durham Community Foundation, said: “The partnership with Ron and his team has worked extremely well over the last four years and we are very pleased to be running this worthwhile programme again. We look forward to seeing the projects develop, demonstrating the real difference a small grant can make to the local community.”