Concept and aims

According to Home Office statistics, 2019/20 saw an 8% increase in hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales, and the prevalence of religious or racially aggravated hate crime offences was a third higher in June 2020 than the previous year. As a community rail partnership which works with people from a range of backgrounds and communities, South East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership (SELCRP) felt it was important to address this issue.

The partnership developed the project to:

  • Raise public awareness of hate crime;
  • Make it easier for victims to recognise what hate crime is, how to report it, and how to access support;
  • Highlight the impact of hate crime to try to prevent it.

While the initial plan was to use Bolton Station as a base for workshop sessions, COVID-19 restrictions forced the partnership to adapt and run the project online. To help inform the project, which was funded by Bolton CVS, SELCRP consulted local community groups including Bolton City of Sanctuary, who work with asylum seekers and refugees, and Stand Up Sisters, who support victims of domestic violence.

What happened

The partnership developed a social media campaign, launched at the start of Greater Manchester’s Hate Crime Awareness Week, highlighting statistics and information about how to report hate crime. Promoted posts were used on Facebook and Twitter to achieve a wider reach, and the partnership also created an online survey using Community Rail Network’s Impact platform. This was used to collect evidence of the issue locally and included a question referring specifically to public transport. This evidence also then informed the content of online artist-led workshops, providing powerful examples to discuss and reflect upon.

The final exhibition included graphics displaying the survey findings, as well as arts and crafts and poetry produced in the workshops. It was initially installed in the P5 Gallery at Bolton Station, before subsequently being filmed and photographed to exhibit online.

Results

The project engaged around 60,000 people on social media, and produced more than 80 survey responses and six well-attended workshops. Alongside the exhibition, a report was distributed to key stakeholders including Network Rail, rail operators, Community Rail Network, Women in Community Rail, Bolton CVS, and other local community organisations. The partnership hopes this report will continue to highlight the ongoing issue of hate crime in Bolton and further afield and provoke people to consider the impact of their behaviour to prevent hate-related incidents. SELCRP is planning another project on this issue for 2022 and hopes to further engage stakeholders to discuss practical ways to prevent hate crime at stations and on trains.