How housing associations can help reduce hate crime for people with learning disabilities and autism

As a housing association and one of the UK’s largest support providers, Dimensions is often on the front line of hate crime. And the people we support have told us they want us to do something about it.

Duncan Bell is Brand Marketing Manager at Dimensions

Duncan Bell is Brand Marketing Manager at Dimensions

19 October 2016

Imagine waking up afraid to leave your own house. Suffering bullying, taunts and torment that you can’t begin to understand. Being a target for fraudsters and at risk of serious physical assault. Such is the day to day experience of many people with learning disabilities and autism. 

Indeed, over half the respondents to a recent Dimensions survey revealed they, or their loved one, had encountered hate crime in the past year. Nearly half reported lower feelings of self-worth or feeling scared of other people. Others mentioned feeling suicidal, powerless, depressed and distressed. Hate-related mental health issues are likely to be a major factor in Assessment and Treatment Unit admissions and therefore represent a key factor in ongoing Transforming Care efforts.

For people without a learning disability or autism, the daily horror of hate crime can be hard to imagine. As a housing association and one of the UK’s largest support providers, Dimensions is often on the front line of hate crime. And the people we support have told us they want us to do something about it.

That is why Dimensions has created #ImwithSam, a campaign with eight specific goals that taken together will tackle hate crime – from its root causes to the way it is handled by the justice system.

This campaign is being run with partners across the sector, speaking with a single voice. Partners include the major self-advocacy organisations such as Learning Disability England and the National Forum for People with Learning Disabilities.


Penny Mordaunt MP

Speaking at the campaign launch in the House of Commons this week, Sarah Newton MP, whose ministerial portfolio includes hate crime, endorsed #ImwithSam, asking campaigners to ‘invite me back and hold me to account against the campaign’s goals in 12 months’ time.’

But as she noted, the Government can’t make these changes alone. So what can housing associations do to make a difference? Here’s a few ideas:

Become a 3rd party reporting centre

People with learning disabilities and autism don’t like police stations. They are unfamiliar, oppressive places. People may fear being questioned about their allegation. They may fear being told they lack credibility. Many of our survey respondents said they would not report a crime – even one involving theft or physical violence. This cannot be right. By becoming a 3rd party reporting centre, you can help your tenants overcome their fear.

Install CCTV

Whilst developing the campaign, we heard several appalling stories including arson which were dealt with because of CCTV. It is a deterrent and an effective piece of evidence.

Mostly though, it is about momentum. #ImwithSam has reached almost a million people already. Asking your clients and staff to join the campaign will help generate the impetus to see the changes through. 

Support the #ImwithSam campaign

Become a campaign supporter. Adding your voice to that of the 15 campaign partners will help us lobby for the changes we want to see.

Your ideas

I’d love to hear your ideas about how we can build on what we know and do more to tackle hate crime. Leave me a comment or email me.

Join the discussion

		
		
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