Help protect our disabled residents from hate crime and mate crime

Monday, 3 December is International Day of People with Disability, which aims to empower them and people who support them to create real opportunities for people with disabilities to be active members of our communities.

Some 56 per cent of disabled people say that they have experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their disability, condition or impairment.

That’s why Barnsley Adult Safeguarding Board wants to raise awareness of the day and urges people to be vigilant every day of the year when it comes to spotting and reporting signs of hate crime and mate crime against people with disabilities.

Hate crime may be one-off incidents or systematic abuse that continues over periods of weeks, months or even years and can occur between strangers who have never met, between acquaintances or within the family.

Mate crime is an aspect of hate crime where people with disabilities are befriended by those who then exploit them. These are groups and individuals who pretend to be friends but who are really taking advantage of people by using their homes for illegal acts, taking all their food/money or forcing them to do things they don’t want to do.

It is common knowledge that hate crimes are acts of prejudice directed towards an individual. However, while the more violent examples of hate crime hit the media and receive widespread attention, low-level everyday harassment goes unpublicised and often unreported, despite it having very damaging and long-term consequences for victims and their families.

Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Safeguarding) said: “The word ‘bullying’ understates the seriousness of an incident that involves intimidation, persecution, terror, fear and harassment. Being called a name because of prejudice may appear to be trivial, but if it happens all the time to the same person it becomes damaging and can affect self-esteem and confidence, reinforcing feelings of difference. Intimidation such as this happens constantly in the daily lives of people with disabilities.

International Day of People with Disability is a UN sanctioned day and is an opportunity for us to improve awareness and take positive action to change inclusion and accessibility for people with disability, including learning disabilities.”

Barnsley residents are asked to watch out for the following signs or symptoms that might be seen in a victim of hate or mate crime:

  • Lack of confidence and self-esteem,
  • anxiety and unhappiness,
  • withdrawal,
  • subservient behaviour and a constant seeking of approval of so called ‘friends’
  • Not living at their home or not using their home due to friends taking it over.

Anyone who sees abuse or has concerns about someone’s safety, is urged to report it by calling 01226 773300 or emailing adultsocialservices@barnsley.gov.uk.

For out of hours concerns people can call 0844 984 1800. If the person is in immediate danger they are urged to call the police on 999 or 101.

This news is linked to Town Spirit. We want to work better together. If everyone in Barnsley does just one thing, together we can make our borough a more welcoming place where people want to live, work and visit.

We’re committed to #LiveIt by supporting Barnsley’s most vulnerable people and helping them get access to support at the earliest possible stage. #OwnIt by checking on older and disabled family and neighbours and telling us if you think someone is at risk of neglect or abuse.

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