This week is National Safeguarding Adults Week, where we take time to step back and reflect on what we have learned about keeping our customers safe over the last year. While being COVID safe has of course been a priority it’s important that other areas aren’t neglected.
Recently, Inclusion London published their report “Still Getting Away with Murder: Disability Hate Crime in England”. We see this work as vital and fully support the findings of the project, in particular the importance of co-production and giving customers a voice. You can read the report here in Plain English and Easy Read.
Julie Willis (Support Service Manager) works with people with Autism, learning disabilities and mental health conditions in Oxfordshire. She shared her experience of tackling hate crime with customers:
“I’ve been working in and around social care since I was just 13, and I can honestly say Advance is the best company I’ve worked for. We get great training on safeguarding and have robust procedures for protecting customers, but we also have the chance to learn from our peers. I’ve been able talk with other staff who might be tackling hate crime for the first time, sharing our experiences to make services better for the customers, and it makes us feel so supported.
It's so important that staff have a good understanding of hate crime so that they can see it and respond to it. Many of our customers don’t recognise hate crime, they might think people are just being rude when actually they’re being targeted. We need to be aware so that we can protect customers, it’s our duty of care.
When Sam* was a victim of hate crime it was very tough for him. People were calling him names, spitting at him, chasing him and sharing videos of his behaviour that they found “weird”. He felt embarrassed and didn’t want people to know, and became more isolated as he stopped going out.
Sam shared what was happening with us and we were able to support him. Working with his family we helped him to see that it was hate crime and supported him to report it to the police. Together we identified Safe Places in town that he could go to if he felt unsafe and safer, well lit, routes to take if he was out after dark. This was really important for Sam so that he didn’t lose his independence.
The local safeguarding team ran workshops for all our customers to teach them about hate crime, their rights and staying safe. They also worked 1:1 with Sam to meet his specific needs.
After gaining back some of his confidence, Sam began talking openly about his experience with others as he didn’t want anyone else to be hurt. He told them about the support he had from Advance, the police and the community, and that he felt cared about. We’re so proud that he’s turned a bad experience into a positive!
If I could do one thing to tackle hate crime it would be talking about it in schools and colleges. Educating people is the only way to help them understand and to see disability as a normal part of life. Everyone is equal, and everyone deserves the same respect.”
You can find more information and guidance about staying safe in our Support and Housing Customer Packs.
If you think that you, or someone else, is experiencing hate crime (or you would like more information) please speak to your Support Worker, Regional Housing Officer or Housing Outreach Worker. Or you can contact our Customer Services Team on 0333 012 4307. We are here to help.