Published: 06:00, 11 October 2019
| Updated: 08:19, 11 October 2019
Help is out there for victims of hate crime, even if you don't want to involve the police.
That's the message from Victim Support in Kent ahead of national Hate Crime Awareness Week which starts tomorrow.
Several events have been organised as part of a unique project KentOnline's charity of the year has been running to support victims.
The Hate Crime Advocate Project is funded by Kent's crime commissioner Matthew Scott.
It was set up as a response to the growing numbers of people affected by hate crime, and the need for bespoke support services for them.
Hate Crime Awareness Week, which runs until Saturday, October 19, brings an opportunity for the charity to share what it has been up to and to spread the word about its services to people who really need it.
Crucially, as with all of the charity's support, incidents don’t need to have been reported to the police in order for people to access it.
Tayler Mason, hate crime advocate at the charity, said: "There is a significant issue of under reporting with hate crime and we want people to know that engagement with the police is not mandatory for accessing our free and confidential support services.
"People who come to us can receive free emotional support.
"This involves one-to-one sessions with our specially trained support workers to give clients the opportunity to talk about what’s been happening and the impact it has had on them.
"It also helps them move on from the incident."
The charity's practical support includes provision of security items, advocacy, referrals and signposting and doing its best to meet the unique needs of each of its individual clients.
As part of the hate crime advocate project, Victim Support has been working on making services as accessible as possible to people for all walks of life and has many ways which people can make contact including a 24-hour helpline and an online live chat facility.
Additionally, as part of the project the charity endeavours to educate staff on different cultures and religions in the county to help break down any barriers for people trying to access services.
Ms Mason added: "Over the past year we have been getting the word out about our project and have been engaging with many key agencies in order for us to work together for victims of hate crime in Kent.
"We’ve invested in having our hate crime leaflets in other languages, such as Arabic and Polish, and have been working closely with Kent Police at many outreach events.
"We have also provided essential support for many vulnerable victims of crime who otherwise may not have had any support at all."
All the pieces created were then displayed in an exhibition held at Gravesend Civic Centre.
During National Hate Crime Awareness Week, the charity will be staging various outreach events across the county.
These include an event being hosted by Medway Community Liaison Officer Bobby Mahay at St Marks Church in Canterbury Street, Gillingham.
The event is free to attend and will involve a host of stands and information from agencies linked to communities affected by hate crime, as well as lots of exhibitors and entertainment.
The event is being held tomorrow from 4pm to 9pm.
Ms Mason added: "Hate crime is not a new issue by any stretch of the imagination, but is one that is finally getting the focus needed to tackle, prevent and support victims of it.
"Our project has so far proved to be crucial to many people and looks to do the same over the coming months.
"If you know anyone who has been affected by hate crime and needs support, please do make them aware of us and the support we can provide.
To contact Victim Support, from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm or on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm call 0808 1689276, or click here.