What is SARI?
SARI is a service user/community-oriented agency that provides support and advice to victims of hate, and promotes equality and good relations between people with protected characteristics as defined by law. Most SARI staff have some direct experience of dealing with hate motivated behaviour and all staff have a clear understanding of and commitment to the objectives of SARI. The Board of Trustees, most of whom have personal experience of hate crime and inequality, are responsible for approving SARI's working policies and procedures.
SARI employs a total of around 25 staff; our single largest activity is casework. In design, this service primarily supports victims of hate crime, but also works with children, young people and schools, providing support to pupils facing racist and other hate incidents in and around schools. We also deliver anti-hate based behaviour and cultural awareness sessions to pupils and school staff. Our work also extends to perpetrators and young offenders.
Established in 1988, SARI has been operational since 1991. It was the brainchild of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) housing provider United Housing Association. The victims of racism in Bristol received no co-ordinated response or specialist support from agencies. A steering group with the aim of remedying this situation was set up in 1988. It consisted of agencies such as Bristol Racial Equality Council, Bristol City Council's Housing Department and Innercity Mental Health Team who worked in consultation with victims of racial harassment and community leaders. They decided to set up a black-led, independent organisation with the aim of offering dedicated support for victims of racist incidents and encouraging agencies to respond better, as well as gaining the trust and support of local BME communities.
A management committee was formed to secure the funding needed to achieve this aim, and with the support of a Home Office Safer Cities Grant, SARI was established. We became fully operational in 1991 achieving funding to employ 2½ people; a project manager, a caseworker and a part time administrator. In that first year 44 cases were referred to us.
Today we have become accepted as a pioneering model for undertaking hate crime work. Supporting victims remains our specific mandate. We have expanded our area of operation from Bristol to cover Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. We have also developed a broader action strategy which encompasses educational work, preventative work, and multi-agency work to combat social exclusion and discrimination. Today we employ over 20 staff and our annual caseload is over 500 cases.
SARI continues to be an autonomous user-led charity. We endeavour to ensure that our staff team and management committee reflects the diverse communities they serve and that they demonstrate a clear understanding of hate crime and its implications. We also work consistently to improve the interaction between ourselves and other agencies involved in the fight against hate crime. We continue to provide our casework service for free and are a non-profit making, non-political and non-campaigning organisation.