A LEADING LGBTQIA+ charity is introducing support services aimed specifically at victims of hate crime as incidents across the North East continue to rise.
The latest figures available from the four police force areas in the region revealed that 951 reports of hate crimes linked to sexual orientation or transgender people were recorded in 2020-21 – a 108 per cent increase from 458 in 2016-17.
Northumberland Pride, which provides a range of support services and training programmes for LGBTQIA+ people across the whole of the North East, is now offering one-to-one support and advocacy services to those who have encountered hateful actions from members of the public.
The support services have been launched following funding from the Ministry of Justice and the Supporting Victims Fund from the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.
Angela Brudenell, the charity’s manager, said: “Sadly, reports of hate crime aimed at people within the LGBTQIA+ community have become more common across the North East but we want those affected to know that there is help, support and acceptance out there to help them through it.
“Northumberland Pride has a link worker and wellbeing worker who work on a one-to-one basis with service users to provide holistic support and advocacy facilities to help people feel more comfortable in themselves despite facing discrimination.
“We also have a great counselling referral service in place where we can ensure those affected by hate crime can access the right help and advice they need.
“Through our services, people will be listened to, will find a community and will be assured that we will do all we can to help and support them through some tough times.”
While the statistics about the high level of hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people are alarming, Angela said they don’t paint the full picture of the volume of incidents.
Angela said: “Some victims don’t feel comfortable or may be too embarrassed to go to the police, while some who have been shouted at in the street, for example, may actually not realise that the actions are classed as a hate crime.
“So it is our belief that the situation about increasing hate crimes directed at LGBTQIA+ people is actually worse than what is presented.
“Northumberland Pride is reaching out to these people to help them through any discrimination they may have faced but don’t want to go to the authorities, and let them know they don’t have to go through these experiences alone.”
Since being formed in 2017, Northumberland Pride has expanded its support services and training it provides to LGBTQIA+ people across the North East.
In addition to the new hate crime support, the charity provides a range of community and youth work services including counselling, one-to-one support, group work, mental health and wellbeing support, domestic and sexual violence and abuse support, and referral working.
Among the training and development programmes it runs are inclusivity workshops, awareness raising sessions, advocacy, information and signposting services.
Anybody wishing to find out more about Northumberland Pride’s services can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.