We are pleased to announce that we are now working across the County of Somerset and can offer casework support, training or advice to victims and agencies. SARI has been delivering a hate crime support service for Somerset since April 2015.
Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council have initially awarded SARI 1 year pilot funding from April 2015 – March 2016 to offer our specialist services to the region. SARI is also fundraising to ensure this service can sustain for the long term. This Hate Crime response service complements the new 3 year funded Police and Crime Commissioner funded AVoice Advocacy Service for vulnerable victims of crime which is for any victim of crime who has additional vulnerabilities, needs or who is targeted due to their identity. AVoice is led by The Care Forum in partnership with SARI and SEAP.
With the specialist hate crime provision, SARI is operating in all 5 districts; Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset. We have already been very busy taking referrals and opening cases – some are one off attacks but many are cases with people who have suffered for a long time and who are deeply affected by the relentless harassment they have faced. We have had disabilist, homophobic, transphobic and racial harassment cases which we are working hard to solve with local partner agencies.
Through our work in Somerset, we recognise that victims of hate crime in the county are often isolated and live in rural areas without access to supportive networks or support agencies and as a result suffer in silence. It is a priority to raise awareness about the support SARI offers to these victims around Somerset and encourage people to report any hate crime or hate incidents they may be suffering or witnessing. We are working hard to increase reporting, ensure that hate crime is being identified and logged appropriately and to most importantly to ensure that victims of hate crime, wherever they live in Somerset, have access to our service and support. We also work with partner agencies and statutory authorities offering training and information about how to recognise and appropriately deal with hate crime, maintaining the victim’s perspective as a priority.