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HOPE not hate

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Stop fixing, start listening: first post-industrial communities conference

posted by: Safya Khan-Ruf | on: Tuesday, 28 March 2017, 20:51


Listening, not myth busting, is the best way to engage with post-industrial communities, HOPE not hate speakers said in Leeds, during a conference focusing on the challenges to revitalising impoverished communities.

This was the first conference organised by HOPE not hate that addressed the sharp inequalities felt by post-industrial areas.

“We need to understand the deep thread of powerlessness and of being ignored that is felt in these communities – as well as the belief that other people are being heard while they are not,” said John Denham, former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

A Future For Post Industrial Communities? was co-hosted by HOPE not hate, the Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC) and the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI) on the 23th and 24th March.

State of Being

The UK is one of the most centralised states in the world and many of the places that used to have heavy industry or mining hold little democratic control over their communities.

Academics at the conference described how these areas had been abandoned by mainstream politicians and the political process by the time UKIP and other far-right groups came knocking on people’s doors.

These de-industrialised areas now have increasing numbers of workers with no job security, working for very low pay.

“People have four or five jobs, on zero-hour contracts but they’re still scrimping at the supermarket,” described Jo McBride from Bradford and Newcastle Universities. “One of them told me: ‘I don’t get to put my kids to bed at night because I’m never there’.”

The art of listening was explained, as was tackling racism without alienating the listener.

Evie Manning, co-director of the Common Wealth Theatre, gives a preview of the play they’re creating with post-industrial communities.

Health is another issue where inequalities across the UK remain stark. Clare Bambra from the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University said this inequality was “a political matter and is not about a paternalistic behaviour change”.

Unlike Germany where the four-year life expectancy gap was bridged between the east and the west after the fall of the Berlin Wall, UK health inequality has increased. The life expectancy gap in Stockton-on-Tees is 17 years between areas with money and those without.

Oxfam reported last year that the UK was one of the most unequal countries in the developing world. The charity stated this inequality contributed to the results of the referendum.

“The referendum brought divisions within our country to a head, with many people expressing distrust and disconnection with political processes and voting for change in the hope that it would improve their economic position,” its report stated.

Listening, not acting

Engaging with communities instead of arriving with solutions was vital according to many of the conference speakers, which included those from the labour and trade union movements, community activists and academics. Many met for the first time in workshops which focused on listening, and not alienating those being addressed.

“We need to step back from Napoleonic forms of leadership, of defining reality and giving hope so as to give space for other people to define reality and make hope for themselves. For meaningful change, we need to let go of our need to always take initiative and instead... listen,” said Reverend Al Barrett from Hodge Hill Church Birmingham.

HOPE not hate speakers also described the importance of listening and demonstrating a willingness to engage with the other person.

Racist terms and ideas are rife in de-industrialised communities, but HOPE not hate speakers stressed engagement was all the more important because of these ideas. “Trump won because people thought – despite his terrifying policies – at least he’s listening. Truly listening means you have to suspend judgement; you have to really listen to what people are saying about who they are,” added Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central.

Racist or not?

While ethnic minorities do not cause the economic challenges facing de-industrialised communities, it is a powerful narrative adopted by certain groups. It presents a simple tale that divides the white and ethnic minority communities despite shared history.

A report published by Runnymede, a race and equality think tank, last week stated the Brexit split between white working class and ethnic minority voters was symptomatic of how anti-immigration sentiment was being used to divide working class communities.

“Indeed the white and ethnic minority working class are often set against each other, even though they share many interests, such as the need for jobs, equality and housing,” the report stated.

“Racism in our context is scapegoating, it’s become political, Farage and other people use it to take power,” said Stuart Hodkinson, critical urban geographer from the University of Leeds.

• Nick Lowles, founder of HOPE not Hate, describes immigration and the nuance of views in post-industrial communities.

Page said it was important to differentiate between people who hold racist views and those whose racism is part of their core identity.

“People have adopted the narratives pumped at them and they have this image of what migrants or what Muslims are. It’s our job and part of the active listening process to engage with them.”

Merthyr Together

HOPE not hate has been working to bring communities together and build dialogue for years.

Harriet Protheroe-Davis, a HOPE not hate community organiser in Merthyr Tydfil, described the community building exercises she’s been working on. This involved, among other things, recording a Christmas single with different schools and organising a football match with local Portuguese and Polish footballers playing against the Merthyr Tydfil team.

 Posted: 28 Mar 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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International Women’s Day 2017: Be Bold For Change

posted by: Jemma Levene | on: Monday, 27 March 2017, 14:33


Last March, we ran an immensely popular online campaign to celebrate individual women around the UK who were nominated as being community champions. This year we were thrilled when Assembly Member Jennette Arnold OBE invited us to run an event for women at the London Living Room in City Hall on the night of International Women’s Day. The evening combined inspiration, education and entertainment, as a hugely diverse crowd of women came together with us.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM with girls invited from local schools

There was a great relaxed atmosphere as the HOPE not hate team had a chance to chat with our guests

To acknowledge the International in IWD, we asked guests to bring socks and underwear to be sent to women in refugee camps in Syria. We heard that people working at City Hall got word of this, and went out at lunchtime to buy packs too – as you can see, people were very generous

Deputy Director Jemma Levene introduced the work of HOPE not hate, and had the opportunity to introduce all the diverse women who work for us

The HOPE not hate women

Some tailored HOPE not hate training on diversity got everyone thinking.

HOPE not hate volunteer Amy Clare runs a session for the younger attendees

Founder of Black African and Caribbean domestic violence shelter Sistah Space, Ngozi Fulani spoke movingly about her work, and was joined by a survivor of abuse, who moved many in the room to tears.

Reggae artist Stushie sang for us

The celebratory mood continued, as Ngozi and her dancers got everyone up dancing

At the end of the evening, everyone was given an ‘organiser’s party bag’, filled with leaflets and goodies, as well as an ice cream voucher, courtesy of our friends at Ben & Jerry’s. Women were asked to fill out a ‘pledge’, writing down what the evening had inspired them to do next, which we collected, recorded, and sent out to them in the post a week later, to remind them of their inspirational night at City Hall.

Photos: Zara Sumpton https://www.flickr.com/photos/zis20/

 Posted: 27 Mar 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Live Blog from Post-Industrial Communities conference

posted by: Safya Khan-Ruf | on: Friday, 24 March 2017, 12:18


Follow our reporter Safya Khan-Ruf as she live-blogs today from our conference at the University of Leeds, 'A Future for Post-Industrial Communities?'

100+ experts, community practitioners and politicians are coming together to help discuss solutions to the problems facing many de-industrialised communities today.

Live-blog link: bit.ly/2ng9MRG

Hashtag: #postindconf

 Posted: 24 Mar 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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New Education team helps schools challenge prejudice and understand far-right signs and threats

posted by: Owen Jones | on: Friday, 3 March 2017, 18:01


Young people have more inclusive views than ever, but can still struggle with understanding prejudice and inequality; schools also need to understand the threat posed by the far right – part of the challenges being met by our new Education team.

Since the hate crime spike witnessed after last summer’s Referendum, HOPE not hate has witnessed an unprecedented demand to speak to young people in schools and their teachers about the challenges of racism and the need to promote more inclusive environments.

Starting with pilot testing last year, this year we’ve begun delivering workshops and talks to schools around the country – all free of charge, thanks to a generous grant.

Our research shows that young people have more inclusive views than ever, and embrace multiculturalism much for enthusiastically than previous generations. Which is great news. But our work is still cut out for us, and the anti-racism (and other -isms) message needs to up its game with young people.

Racism/sexism/homophobia are all ‘bad’ and young people know that. But aside from these core themes, do they really understand what prejudice means on a day-to-day level? Do they understand the use of lazy language, how inequality often starts from birth, and that there are other embedded historical structures in society that prevent genuine equality between genders, ethnic groups and other minorities struggling for holistic acceptance in today’s Britain?

Could they even (unwittingly) be contributing to these inequalities or prejudice without realising…?

These are the issues and lessons we debate in schools today and we’re keen to have those debates – with a certain degree of urgency, too.

First conference

During the Spring half-term a room full of education professionals met in central London from the across the country for the launch of our brand new education programme, looking to address those issues above, as well as hear our expertise on dealing with stereotypes and educating around the far right.

The group was presented with HOPE not hate’s vision for the project – a three-layered programme covering harmful language, far-right awareness and teacher training – as well as our plan of taking our skills from community organising right into the classroom, offering schools a very different experience to other charities in this sector.

It was wonderful to be able to tap into the huge amount of high-class experience in the room, to help us tailor the programmes and messaging to be as useful to schools as possible across the different educational key stages. This was followed by a fascinating debate about the differing nature the nature of the problems and threats faced around the country.

We are now proud to have an advisory board chaired by an Ofsted-rated educational specialist (and long-term HOPE not hate volunteer), which will help us keep up-to-date with what is occurring in British classrooms and ensure that we continue to tailor and improve our offerings to the educational sector.

Our future plans include “Train the Trainer” classes for teachers around the country and further developing our work with sport, to making it as engaging as we can for students with different learning styles.

Owen Jones is Head of Education at HOPE not hate

If you’re a teacher or educational specialist interested in learning more about our Education team’s work, please contact us: education@hopenothate.org.uk

 Posted: 3 Mar 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Merthyr’s 1st LGBT+ Club Night

posted by: Harriet Protheroe Davies | on: Tuesday, 28 February 2017, 11:03


Merthyr Tydfil is my home, a place that for most of my life I was told was void of opportunity and investment, abandoned by consecutive governments and local politicians.

Growing up, there was very much a feeling that nothing ever happened in Merthyr: nothing to look forward to, the future bleak. I had very few things to do and very few places to go. I had always questioned my sexuality (my straightness) but never had a place to publicly do this, sat alone with my thoughts confused in my bedroom. At times I was quite lost.

These experiences of isolation and loneliness were precisely what inspired me to create Merthyr's first ever LGBT+ night. I wanted (and want) to make sure that the work I do with HOPE not hate on post-industrial communities included organising with the LGBT+ community, which often faces similar problems to the migrant community – being "othered".

I wanted to make sure that LGBT+ people living in Merthyr knew that there was a space for them to express and explore themselves, knowing that Merthyr would always be a welcoming, tolerant and accepting place.

On Saturday these dreams came to fruition as we – Visible Merthyr (a local LGBT+ group) and HOPE Not Hate Merthyr (run by myself) – organised Merthyr’s 1st LGBT+ club night.

We invited a range of performers from Wales’ LGBT+ community, including a trans woman who specialises in LGBT+ photography; Alex Shepard, a gender queer burlesque performer; famed LGBT author, Eddie Kelly; Norena Shopland, a gender queer polaris beat poet; and Carey Wood, a gender queer Egyptian belly dancer. We also had DJ sets from Lukas Matisse, who played disco, soul and funk, and DJ Matt with late night cheese. A very busy evening!

The venue was incredibly dressed: as you drove up the hill you could see the colours of the LGBT flag 🏳️‍🌈 lighting up each of the enormous old windows. The room was filled with handmade decorations that were made by the local LGBT group (Liberace style), all accompanied by a retro funk and disco soundtrack. People who I'd never met before (which is surprising for Merthyr) came, one declaring as she entered the building: “I'M FROM MERTHYR AND I'M A LESBIAN. AT LAST!”

The attendees were mainly older couples. One explained to me that he had rarely been given the opportunity to go to public events in the valleys with his partner without feeling intimidated. Another woman explained that she was trans and had never felt safe coming to Merthyr as a trans woman before, and that she had come over from the neighbouring valley to be with us on this night. She also told me that she wanted to bring the club night to her valley, admitting “it would be tough” but that she was enthusiastic that she could do it after our night here in Merthyr.

As a result HOPE not hate is now looking at collaborating with local groups in each of the South Wales valleys, with the aim of launching a similar event in each.

Following the success, appreciation and love that came from our 1st LGBT+ club night, I believe that with the support of local groups, HOPE not hate can have a significant impact in creating welcoming, inclusive and friendly spaces for the LGBT community here – and can begin turning back the tides of hatred and prejudice.

 Posted: 28 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Tackling the root causes of division

posted by: John Page | on: Sunday, 26 February 2017, 12:16


Photo: Sam Leighton

Photo: Sam Leighton

HOPE not hate has teamed up with Leeds University to host a conference, 23-24 March: ‘A future for post-industrial communities?’

Over the last couple of years, one of the areas we have increasingly focused on has been those communities whose past was industrial, confident and proud, but whose present is in many ways the opposite. These communities are often the target of provocative marches by the far right. In many cases, as people feel helpless, the narratives of blame and division have begun taking hold.

We have started to work with our friends at the New Economics Foundation, with regeneration groups and with academics to explore the issues in these communities, believing that whatever the challenges, a community is more effective when it is inclusive. Our training on community organising can help a community to address issues, and when a community can effect change, it does not need to look for someone to blame.

We have had organisers in Rotherham, Methyr and Dudley, seeking to find the issues that really affect their communities and we have identified a key theme. In each of these areas there are huge inequalities of health. A boy child born on one side of town has a life expectancy 10 years lower than in another part of town. This is a national disgrace, and there is much that an organised community can do to address it.

That is why we are hosting a conference with the aim of bringing key players: charities, community groups, academics, health professionals, and activists together, to explore what can be done to change the cycle of despair that too often exists in these communities.

 Posted: 26 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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FILM: What would Wales look like without migrants?

posted by: By Tom Godwin and Harriet P.D | on: Friday, 24 February 2017, 13:59


Monday 20th February saw actions and events take place across the UK to highlight the contribution of migrants to the UK. The idea of “One Day Without Us” was to think about what our society would be like without migrants.

The HOPE not hate Welsh team’s contribution was a short video, compiled with the help of volunteers and filmed and edited by Marcos Schneider.

What would Wales look like without migration? We began by asking our friends and volunteers what they thought.

For Sue and Fran - who speak in the video about their family history - it was clear: Many of us would simply not be here.

This short video is a selection of some of these conversations. We spent a couple of days filming. It was a lot of fun and helped us understand a lot about ourselves and our own families and communities in the process.

For our filmmaker, Marcos Schneider, the project was about “showing that in all our diversity, we ultimately share a common human experience… We wanted to spread a positive message that can help turn strangers into friends and neighbours."

 Posted: 24 Feb 2017 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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One Day Without Us Event in Birmingham

posted by: Mahmooda Qureshi | on: Thursday, 23 February 2017, 14:00


Up to 16 organisations in Birmingham came together to organise the event 'One Day Without Us'. The event was coordinated by Hope not Hate, Birmingham.

Community atmosphere in the gallery upstairs where we had stalls from various organisations supporting migrants and refugees

The idea was to bring people of various backgrounds together, to socialise over food from 4-6pm, to socialise, have a few speeches, a few positive stories and be entertained at the end to celebrate the Diversity of our British Culture.

Children enjoying the activities arranged for them

Ridhi and Tim from the Ort Gallery, who hosted the event for us

The food was provided free by the The Real Junk Food Project, Birmingham. The Afghan community made some food for us to share too!

Our Afghan community made some lovely food for us too!

Kitchen of the Cafe

People socialising in the cafe over some lovely food

Someone donated a cake which said 'Peace' on it

We had a short talk by Mary from the TUC, highlighting the important contribution migrants and refugees are making in the workforce, and how we would collapse without their hard work. We had a speech from our Local Birmingham Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transparency, Openness and Equality. He enlightened us with what the city council is doing and have done to support migrants and refugees coming to the UK, especially in Birmingham. Other speeches were from ASIRT (Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team), Right to Work UK

Councillor Waseem Zaffar addressing the audience

We had some inspirational stories from people of different backgrounds who have settled in the UK, who are making a positive contribution to British Society. Mohammad Fahim, running a community centre in Walsall from Afghan background, Mirsad, Bosnian, who is a writer and artist, Anand Kumar, a senior physiotherapist in the NHS.

The day ended in the café from 7-9pm with some great, lively entertainment from various groups from all ethnic backgrounds:

The relaxed atmosphere in the cafe. People enjoying the entertainment

7pm Daz Dolczech and Ann Jones will be performed some classic Mamamatrix tunes, along with some revolutionary songs

7:25pm Dave Rodgers, a singer, performer, scriptwriter, songwriter and researcher is a long-time political activist and campaigner shared some of his music with us.

7:50pm Ake Achi from Right2Work sang some of his songs.

8:15pm Celebrating Sanctuary present Seikou Susso and Dan Wilkins playing the kora, a traditional West African Instrument, the 'African Harp'. Celebrating Sanctuary works through the arts to raise awareness of the contributions that refugees make to the UK, in particular to the city of Birmingham.

Celebrating Sanctuary performing their lovely music

Our audience of various backgrounds

It turned out to be such a great event, supported by so many people. We felt the love going beyond race, religion and culture!

 Posted: 23 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Brilliant!

posted by: Jemma Levene | on: Thursday, 23 February 2017, 10:34


Well done everyone for all the activity over the weekend, and continuing through this week. If you have not viewed (or better still shared) our 'let them stay' campaign video then please watch it here It has now been viewed on Facebook alone by nearly 2 million people in just a few days.

Richmond community fun day

Our Richmond group held a community fun day, featuring free food, games, local stories and conversations about what we can do to promote inclusive values locally. Hosted by Amigos in Whitton, the day saw people creating a handprint chart (well done for not covering our generous venue in paint!), and hanging messages saying what they love about the community.

Find a Common Flavour – Lambeth

Food somehow always brings people together, and in Lambeth this weekend we used food to talk about local diversity, giving out snacks from different cultures and collecting people’s favourite recipes. Lots more recipes to come…watch this space!

Difficult Conversations Training in Kingston

We ran our hugely relevant Difficult Conversations training, and later this week we are planning how to put what we learnt into action on a local housing estate.

Cambridge

Cambridge Unitarians hosted over 40 people of all faiths and none to join in pledging their support for migrants and refugees as part of the #1DayWithoutUs national event. Minister Andrew spoke about why HOPE not hate work is more crucial than ever.

This was followed by a public rally where HOPE not hate organiser Elisabeth Pop spoke about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Cambridge and how no community, even one as liberal as Cambridge, should take its community cohesion for granted, and about the need to speak up for tolerance and inclusivity and hold those who spread fear and hate accountable.

Qamar Nizam from Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum spoke about the need for solidarity across ethnic backgrounds exemplified about Khidmat Sisters, a project run by women to support other women in need. Their latest event brought together mothers who were Lithuanian, Syrian, Palestinian, Polish, Saudi, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi.

Peterborough

On Monday, 20 Feb, for the actual UN Day of Social Justice, Cambridgeshire HOPE not hate took part in the #1DayWithoutUs event organised by EU migrants in Peterborough. We got a great reaction to the petition asking MPs of all parties to pledge not to vote for any.

In the evening, together with Cambridge Migrants Organise, we run a World Café where migrant leaders spoke about their worries and hopes, how we can best support each other and how to get migrant voices heard at the 4 May county council and super mayoral election.

Heroes' gallery

As well as al kinds of activities and gatherings, over 70,000 leaflets were dispatched for this week of action, and whether volunteers took 1,000 or 50 they are all heroes.

Below are just a selection of the great photos that people have sent in.

Birmingham

Birmingham

Manchester

Manchester

Birmingham

Birmingham

Camarthen

Camarthen

Eastwood

Eastwood

Muswell Hill

Muswell Hill

Cardiff

Cardiff

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Southampton University

Southampton University

London

London

Oxford Brooks University

Oxford Brooks University

 Posted: 23 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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HOPE not hate Building Bridges not Walls!

posted by: John Page | on: Wednesday, 1 February 2017, 00:08


On 20 January, HOPE not hate groups across the country joined int he international protest: 'Bridges not walls'. Below are just a few of the pictures our supporters sent in.

Eileen Kinsman sent this picture from Aberystwyth; where they clearly give the message; doubling up with posters and banners!
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Emma Beacham sends pictures from Abingdon! 50 people turned up to be a part of the lovely view that includes banners, posters and a beautiful bridge! Here we have a HOPE not hate supporter starting young!
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In Lewisham after their session of leafleting Hilary Moore and friends use a poster for their photo opportunity! It was a Labour NHS day of action too, so double whammy for them!
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In Cambridge over 40 people gathered by the Mathematical Bridge; a show of solidarity on Cambridge streets was reported by Cambridge News! Among the voices of HOPE determined to build bridges not walls were HNH supporters, representatives from migrant and refugee groups, trade unions, Cambridge University staff and activists from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party. How encouraging that people from across the political spectrum came forward to show their solidarity!
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In Watford the photo op was covered by the Watford Observer who noted that people were getting the message to 'build bridges not walls!' Lots of smiling for the camera!
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At London Bridge Thom Haig did a great job taking pictures to include this stand alone banner on the bridge and the view from opposite the bridge! You can see the crowd gathered on the bridge and the great message on a great banner!
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Sutton supporters Building Bridges gave out leaflets at Sutton station and then it was time for photos! I am glad that everyone was wrapped up warm!
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Here is a picture of supporters in Trafalgar Square! Both the message of Jo Cox More In Common and Bridges not walls represented here.
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One of our canine supporters modelling our campaign shirt!

 Posted: 1 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments