This guy witnessed a homophobic hate crime – now he gives up his nights to stop them
A man who saw first-hand the impact of homophobic hate crime has spoken out about why he now volunteers to help others.
Robbie Stone, 24, from Manchester, saw the impact of violent hate crime first-hand when one of his friends was subject to an attack in the Gay Village, which left him with a broken jaw.
His friend was given support by the Village Angels, who provide vital support services to people in distress on the city’s gay scene through the night every weekend.
After seeing their work first-hand, Mr Stone was inspired to step up as a volunteer and become a Village Angel himself.
He explained: “I believe that it is important to stand up to hate crime as everyone is born equal and no one deserves to be a victim of hate crime.
“We need to challenge the opinions of people who carry out hate crime and try to educate them as to why it is wrong.”
The Village Angels scheme is run by the LGBT Foundation and supported by the city’s Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd.
Donning pink tabards, volunteers give up their Friday and Saturday nights to help keep people safe on Manchester’s famous Canal Street.
The group, who locals praise for helping avert countless incidents, have some unlikely supporters – with the Bishop of Manchester joining the Angels on a patrol last year.
Mr Stone was speaking during Hate Crime Awareness Week, a Greater Manchester-wide week of action to raise awareness, challenge perceptions and promote tolerance and respect.
A release explained: “The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office is working with voluntary agencies and communities to promote Greater Manchester’s network of independent reporting centres.
“The LGBT Foundation is one of hundreds of centres where you can report incidents in complete confidence, without speaking directly to the police. Victims of hate crime can also get help and support to help them cope and recover from what’s happened.”
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Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jim Battle said: “Hate crime reporting centres provide a lifeline for people who have suffered hate crime but don’t have the confidence to speak to the police. We are working with centres across Greater Manchester to improve the service offered to victims through a coordinated approach, including bespoke training for staff and volunteers and stronger links with the police, so we can make sure every victim of hate crime is offered the same high standard of help and support, no matter where they are in Greater Manchester.”
Dale Maskell, the LGBT Foundation’s Director of Operations, said: “LGBT Foundation has a long history of providing support to help LGBT victims of hate crime.
“Through being a third party reporting centre, we are able to help victims report hate crimes if they do not feel comfortable going directly to the police themselves.
“Having third party reporting centres is a vital part of ensuring that all victims of hate crime receive the support and assistance they need.”
To report hate crime and find out what’s happening in your area to tackle it, visit www.letsendhatecrime.com. You can also report it by calling police on 101.