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14 October, 2019

Hate Crime ‘Wake Up Call’ for young people in North Yorkshire

Autumn update from the Youth Commission

“Bula Vinaka” A Fijian greeting from Risedale College

‘Wake Up Call’, funded by the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner’s Community Fund and delivered by North Yorkshire Youth in partnership with North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire County Council is a two day course delivered in schools across North Yorkshire.

The workshops, run at Risedale Sports and Community College, aim to re-route negative views, beliefs and behaviour into positive attitudes used in young people’s daily life.

The programme sits in the ‘pre Prevent’ space, focusing on the lower level hate crime agenda, a key priority of North Yorkshire Police’s Children and Young People’s strategy and North Yorkshire Youth Commission.

The Youth Commission had heard how those attending the ‘Wake Up Call’ had been empowered through their experience and had been on a swift but challenging and incredibly positive journey, growing from agitators or bystanders, to becoming cultural leaders within their school.

Risedale College is is located in the Catterick Garrison area, near Richmond, which has a diverse community.

Ahead of National Hate Crime Awareness week, the Youth Commission went along to find out more about this innovative project.

Huddled round a table at Risedale College with Head of Faculty, Sarah Cox were Mikey, Jackson, Candice, Bradley, Luke, Jack, Nemani, Sikeli and Gabby.

We asked the young people their opinions on the programme and what had happened as a result of taking part:

“How would you describe the ‘Wake Up Call’ project?”

“The purpose was to learn about Hate Crime. It was fun, better than lessons!”

“I think we all learnt a lot – It made us think to never do hate crime and never be racist and don’t be homophobic”

“We talked about an incident that happened and we resolved it all, we learned a lot. It was about understanding that it was a bad thing. I know what I did now, I know what I did”

“How did you feel about Hate Crime before ‘Wake Up Call’?”

“Before I started the project I didn’t even know what a Hate Crime was. If you commit a crime against someone you might not really mean it to be a hate crime like you might not commit the crime because of hate but if that person is from a different race or maybe a different religion it could be seen as hate.”

“How did you feel after?”

“It made me kind of realise what I’d done. We got educated. We understood that the person effected didn’t feel right and we felt bad because of that. We wouldn’t do it again?”

“We were within a group. We did what we did so we got the consequences”

“What made the difference?”

“We watched a video. We also had to stand on one side of the room or the other side of the room to show our opinions to say if we agreed or disagreed with certain things. We had to show our thoughts in front of each other so everyone could see our opinions and people could say if we were stood in the wrong place”

“It’s rare that schools have this kind of approach, they work with you and make you understand”

“What was the most memorable part of the course?”

“There was fun stuff like emoji games and stickers. Then other stuff like, we saw a video on empathy and we were trying to teach people respect. We learned about judging people from how they look and how it feels to be in someone else’s shoes”

“What’s next?”

“We created the idea of ‘Fiji Day’ in school as three of us are from Fiji and every October Fijian people celebrate it. We’re going to celebrate it in school and have some Fijian Food and stuff and dance. We came up with the idea as we were talking about where we are from and how we learned English.”

“It’s good to learn about people’s daily life to see what they do and then you can respect them”

“What would you say to any other young person who was due to attend the course?”

“Try it out – you never know what is going to happen, you might learn something”

“You’ll enjoy it and there is a lot of activities to do, you meet people and learn about their lives. You’ll be more educated about Hate Crime and you can get a better job.

“We should always treat each other right, we shouldn’t judge people by how they look”

The plans to hold a cultural celebration in the school show what is possible when young people are asked to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions whilst given the dedicated time, space and skilled facilitators to explore the issues effectively.

Clare Yates, Youth Development Manager at North Yorkshire Youth said of the programme :

“Wake Up at Risedale was inspirational for everyone involved. The level of learning was unique with an incredible understanding by the young people of the journey they had been on. The honesty and support the young people gave to each other was phenomenal with the outcome of Fijian Day being the icing on the cake. For myself and my colleague at North Yorkshire Youth the support from the multi-agency partnership work has been exceptional. The police, Youth Commission, North Yorkshire County Council staff and the senior leadership team at Risedale helped ensure that this course was the very best it could be.”

Fiji Day will be an excellent legacy from a programme that tunes-in to young people’s environment; working with their perceptions and challenging their misconceptions.

The school and consequently the community will be a better place thanks to ‘Wake Up Call’.

We were left with thoughts from Sarah Cox, Head of Faculty at Risedale College as she summed up the experience:

“I was very proud as your Teacher about the passion you have for where you come from, your culture and how your experiences were different. We have been inspired by how you wanted to help people understand and share it with them. Fiji day is a perfect result for us as an inclusive school.”

Bula Vinaka from the Youth Commission, we wish you all the best with Fiji Day and the continuation of Wake Up call.

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