Published: 10:00, 10 December 2016
Gravesham is a “beacon other areas can learn from”, after a national study found a high level of racism and abuse targeted at Sikhs.
According to a survey by the Sikh Network, which polled 4,559 British Sikhs, 20% of them said they had been the victim of abuse or discrimination in the past 12 months.
The Sikh community is the fourth largest in the UK, behind Christians, Muslims and Hindus.
But in Gravesham, they are the second largest religious group, roughly accounting for more than 7% within a population of 105,000.
That is almost 7,400 people.
It would mean 1,400 of them would have been victims of abuse to meet this national figure of 20%.
Yet in the three months from August to October this year, only eight people of Asian or Bangladeshi ethnicity reported any race or religious hate crime.
Averaging it over a year that is just 32.
The figures are not broken down by religion directly, so the number may be even less, although not every crime is reported.
Gurvinder Sandher, head of the Kent Equality Cohesion Council in Wrotham Road and a Sikh himself said: “In Gravesham we pride ourselves on our positive community relations. The Sikh community has been established in the borough since the late 1940s and now their influence can be found in all walks of life in Gravesham.
"This includes business, the arts, the charity sector, public service and volunteering to name a few. I welcome the report as it highlights important issues nationally.
“I have been working locally in Gravesham for 17 years and in my experience the situation is vastly improved to when I first started or indeed when I was growing up.
'In my experience the situation is vastly improved to when I first started or indeed when I was growing up'
“I would like to think that Gravesham is a beacon other areas can learn from, around how communities regardless of faith come together to work as one to organise and participate in community celebrations from Saint George’s Day to Vaisakhi, from Diwali to Christmas.”
More than two thirds of the 420,000 Sikhs living in Britain were born in Britain, with almost 90% considering themselves British, according to the survey.