Togetherness Key for New Cohesion Project

We Stand Together will take our anti-discrimination workshops to schools, colleges, youth and community groups alongside developing and supporting local #WeStandTogether Groups to undertake local cohesion work.

#WeStandTogether will be undertaking a large-scale prevention project focussing on protecting people and communities most vulnerable to hate crime in Greater Manchester including minority ethnicities and religions, refugees, LGBT+, disabled and older people. Using funds made available from the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), the project intend to increase people’s confidence to report hate crime and support those who wish to stand together with minorities to challenge hatred.

Recent years have seen significant increases in hate incidents and hate crimes both nationally and specifically in Greater Manchester. There is great concern among politicians, the media and community leaders at the divisions which have opened up across the country.

We Stand Together’s community cohesion initiative comes as the country is in lockdown and needs, more than ever, to heal divisions. It has three aspects:

  • Rolling out Anti-discrimination Workshops to schools, colleges, youth and community groups;
  • Developing local #WeStandTogether Groups;
  • Delivering a #WeStandTogether and #YouthStandTogether Conference in late 2021.

Jonny Wineberg, Director of Operations, explained, “Even though we are required to stay home as much as possible, there are still opportunities for online interaction, which we will be seizing. The initiative came about after extensive consultation and builds on recommendations from the Greater Manchester Cohesion Commission report ‘A Shared Future’ as well as reinforcing the GMP approach to neighbourhood policing. It is designed to reach young people as well as adults across communities. By the summer we hope that we can return to more familiar ways of people coming together with diverse gatherings building respect and understanding.”

We Stand Together welcomes two project co-ordinators who will be working with Jonny on this project:

James Edgington joins We Stand Together as  a former founder of two charities and is a national hate crime awareness award winner. James co-founded The Jennifer Trust in 2010, a bereavement support charity for widowed fathers and their children and is the co-founder and Festival Director of Bolton Pride. As a freelance Theatre Director, James has focused much of his work on the development of social prescribing for the community, acknowledging the importance of the arts and the direct correlation of theatre and mental health within communities.

James said, “Building stronger communities is a passion of mine that has been highlighted through my charity work while feeding into my professional development. Faiza and I will be reaching out to schools, colleges and youth groups to offer anti-discrimination workshops that can explore polarised views and build empathy of the effects of prejudice and discrimination. Through dialogue and togetherness we aim to enhance respect and dignity.”

Faiza Chaudhri is a freelance community engagement trainer and is currently a Dementia Group Leader for a Manchester-based charity. For over a decade she worked as a NHS Community Health Development Worker, engaging with a variety of local communities across the Northwest, specialising in minority community engagement. Her fields of expertise range from mental and physical health, developing a range of programmes around healthy eating, self-care and physical activity. In her spare time she is a freelance trainer, charity fundraiser and runs the ‘Gluten-free the Desi Way’ food blog for those living with coeliac disease.

Faiza said, “We are hoping to work closely with Council Cohesion Officers and local Police to identify communities who would most benefit from local #WeStandTogether activities. As a community development practitioner, my priority is to help communities identify their own assets, both human and otherwise, and then enable people to plan and deliver activities they decide on to bring people together.”

One additional aspect of the project will be a new Affiliate Awards Programme, where those running local activities and establishing #WeStandTogether or #YouthStandTogether groups could win one of 16 Awards, up to £2,500. Groupswould be expected to bring together people from diverse backgrounds through workshops, celebrations, dialogues or other activities. Those showing the strongest cohesion impact will be selected for awards in August 2021.

Sir Peter Fahy, Chair of trustees, said, “These are challenging times and one of the consequences of the pandemic is that existing divisions have been widened. At the same time there has been great local volunteering helping those in need and bringing people together and we want to build on this, strengthening how people understand one another and work together at the local level. Our work in schools will be a great part of this again, building on how young people want to understand the community around them.”

Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said, “I welcome the launch of this important new project from We Stand Together which seeks to challenge discrimination and prejudice by educating and empowering our young people and the wider community. This supports ongoing work across Greater Manchester to improve social cohesion and tackle hate crime through prevention work and strengthening community ties. It is important to reinforce there is no place for hate crime in our city-region as we all work together to build stronger communities.”

Superintendent Rick Jackson, Greater Manchester Police’s tactical lead on hate crime, said, “At a time when we are seeing a rise nationally in hate crime, GMP is now, more than ever, dedicated to increasing victims’ confidence in coming forward and sharing the message that hate crime will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester benefits from a diverse population, with people from different faiths and backgrounds – it’s what makes us the city we are. Hate crime can have a damaging effect to our communities and have a significant impact on the victim’s life and wellbeing. We are committed to, working alongside partners, doing all we can to eradicate it from our streets.

The money GMP has given to support the We Stand Together prevention project has come from the POCA. This means that money that has been obtained illegally by criminals can now be used to invest in fantastic projects such as this one, which help to reduce crime, educate people and keep people safe.”

Togetherness Key for New Cohesion Project
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