Written by Mariam Sohail
My name is Mariam Sohail and I am a second-year university student, studying International Relations and French. Before becoming a Hate Crime Ambassador, I spent two months in Europe, where I did various projects with NGOs through the European Union. These projects included spending a month In Hungary, where I was part of a long term project writing and developing policy proposals around youth education and jobs, as well as working with a local council in a Western Turkish town to assess the links between health and infrastructure.
I decided to get involved with Black Country Innovate's Hate Crime Ambassador Training as I saw it as an opportunity to develop necessary new skills that could help me with my work. Thankfully, I have never been a victim of a hate crime myself, but I have seen instances of it myself whilst travelling and even in public; however, I never knew how to intervene. This was partly because of fear, but mainly due to lack of knowledge. Previously, if I was to ever witness a hate crime I wouldn’t know where to turn, who to contact or how to help. However, that’s exactly what I learnt on the course and more including the rights and laws that protect victims of hate crimes, what defines a hate crime, the five protected strands of hate crime, as well as how to safely intervene as a bystander.
We were really lucky to have a diverse group of individuals in their first cohort of ambassadors. Everyone brought their views and opinions forward, and it was a safe and encouraging environment despite the challenging nature of most of the discussions.
I can safely say this experience has been great for me, not only for personal growth but as I know I am a valuable member of the community now. Following the course, I was able to safely intervene in a hate crime I witnessed on the bus, offering emotional support to the victim, directing them to the correct services, and encouraging them to report the incident to the police. This confidence and clarity could not have been demonstrated by me before the training.
Moving forward, I am now working for Black Country Innovate as a Project Support Intern, and we are planning to train another cohort of hate crime ambassadors across the four localities in Walsall. I aim to see this as a widespread project, increasing the amount and scope of ambassadors across Walsall, in every service and location imaginable. It is then that Walsall will be better equipped to deal with hate crime as a community.
Would you like to get involved with the Walsall Hate Crime Reduction Initiative and help raise awareness of Hate Crime? To find out more or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org