An event which aimed to positively counter hate in Stoke-on-Trent has been a sell-out.
The ‘harms of hate’ event, which was organised by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, took place at the YMCA, Hanley, last night and saw just under 200 people from all backgrounds, faiths and communities attend.
The aim of the event was to signpost services that are available in Stoke-on-Trent for victims of hate and to help build a community ethos and resilience around any forms of hate in the city.
It featured survivors of hate recounting their personal stories and lived experiences of coming through hate, extremism and terror.
National speakers at the event included:
- Mindu Hornick - Ms Hornick is the last remaining Holocaust survivor in the West Midlands. She talked about her life's journey from Slovakia to her home city of Birmingham with the dramatic survival of the biggest extermination camp in Poland - Auschwitz-Birkenau.
- Ahmad Nawaz - Mr Nawaz spoke about his survival at the hands of the Taliban at the attack on the APS School in Peshawar in Dec 2014.
- Suzanne Richards - Ms Richards talked about the 2015 Tunisian terror attack.
Local and midlands contributions came from Challenge North Staffs, a hate crime reporting charity, Frontline Dance who performed a piece on disability hate and exclusion and Abdullah Rehman from TellMama, an anti-Muslim hate group which supports victims of anti-Muslim hate. Jason Smith performed a spoken word poem while Cheryl Gerrard talked about Lidice Lives and its legacy in Stoke-on-Trent.
Community groups in attendance also had the opportunity to find out more about Building a Stronger Britain Together* funding grants and the support available from Stoke-on-Trent City Council to progress applications for projects in Stoke-on-Trent.
Cllr Randy Conteh, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communities and Safer City at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, was in attendance. He said: “It is so positive to see such a turn out for this event – all tickets were completely sold out and that’s testimony to the calibre of speakers that attended. This also builds on the work of our community cohesion teams working with partners to support residents and groups across the city.
“It also clearly demonstrates the positive attitude across the city to work together as a community to combat hate and all it stands for. This is not something welcome in Stoke-on-Trent and we’ll do all we can to stand together in face of adversity. Events like this help to build a strong community network where resilience can flourish and grow stronger.”
Jude Haws from Challenge North Staffordshire was at the event. She said: “I was really pleased to take art in such a significant event. It was amazing. We had so many people attend, including so many young people. It is so vital that they hear about all the things that have happened in the world. They have been able to go away with a sense of hope that we can make sure that our city is going to be different and full of people that want to see positive things happen.
Nicky Twemlow is community manager at YMCA where the event was hosted. She said: “It was an incredible experience and we are very humbled to host such amazing people in Stoke-on-Trent. What was especially poignant about the events was that all the speakers had experienced hate significantly in their lives but are using that positively. They clearly showed that collaboration and education is the way forward. Hats off to the team at Stoke-on-Trent City Council for organising.”
An Anne Frank exhibition was also on display to provide a further understanding of the horrific journey of those that were victims of the Nazi persecution.
Further hate harms events will be planned throughout the year. For further information, community groups can contact Adrian Waters from Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232107.