I spent some time today at a conference about hate crime, and had the privilege of listening to one of the bravest and most inspirational speakers I have encountered in a long time.
Sylvia Lancaster is the mother of Sophie Lancaster, the beautiful, gentle, creative teenager who died six years ago following an attack on her and her boyfriend Rob.
Sophie and Rob were both creative, artistic young people who had a very individual sense of style in clothes, hair, make up and music. They also liked Harry Potter, watching soap operas and doing other things that most teenagers do. They were hatefully attacked in a park by other teenagers who took exception to their appearance.When Sophie rushed to help Rob and cradled his head in her lap, she was brutally attacked and repeatedly kicked and punched. Sophie lived for 13 days in hospital until her bruised, swollen and battered body could take no more punishment.
When the case came to court and went to trial the judge acknowledged that the defendants were guilty of hate crime.
Sophie’s mum Sylvia actively campaigns for hate crime to be properly recognised and understood in schools and the wider community.
She said: “It was always obvious to me why they had been attacked, it took the police two weeks to agree with me. At first they thought it had been a robbery, but I always knew it had been about their appearance. We want people to know how wrong hate crime is.”
To find out more and support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation follow them on Twitter @sophie_charity or go to their website http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com