a down syndrome girl making the love sign and smiling at the camera

Hate crime. It’s not your fault.

Disability hate crime in Somerset is going unreported according to a needs assessment which found reporting to be lower than expected.

Alice Parsley, Deputy Chair of The Discovery Council, is working with Somerset County Council, Avon and Somerset Police and Openstorytellers to raise awareness of disability hate crime through a series of videos. The videos explain what disability hate crime is, how to report it and where to get support.

Hate crime comes under many guises

From verbal abuse, insults and bullying (online and in person) to anti-social behaviour and financial exploitation.

And then, there is the more inconspicuous “mate crime”

Mate crime is when the perpetrator is a known and trusted friend, family member or carer. Mate crime is even less likely to be reported than hate crime because it is easier for the perpetrator to take advantage of the person, meaning the person who is a victim of hate crime is even more likely to think it’s their fault.

Hate crime or mate crime?

The bottom line is any disability hate is a crime, whoever the perpetrator is. If someone is bullying, belittling, undermining, or gaining one-upmanship by using someone’s disability against them, it is a crime.

Alice’s role as Discovery Council Deputy Chair gives her knowledge about Dimensions’ #IAmWithSam campaign. So, she connected Somerset County Council, Avon and Somerset Police and Openstorytellers in Frome to amplify awareness and spread the word further:

“As I’m doing hate crime work with Dr Mark Brookes MBE at Dimensions and with Openstorytellers, I thought I should bring them together, and that’s how it came about.”

See Alice explain in the what is hate crime video below:

It’s not your fault.

That’s why joining together and supporting each other to speak up is so important.

Alice became a Discovery council member during the pandemic. It was a natural progression after being a Quality Consultant for Discovery since 2018. As a Quality Consultant, Alice is part of a paid panel for recruitment interviews.

We asked Alice what being a council member does for her:

“I was so grateful to have the opportunity to join the council. It took my mind off the pandemic and meant I could concentrate on doing something positive.

“I have become more confident in other aspects than I thought I would because I’m confident going places in my power chair on my own. But, it’s been a long journey, getting to where I am now.

“It was the same when I applied for Deputy Chair, I wasn’t immediately comfortable, but I knew I had a skill in helping others to speak up and could see how valuable that would be, so I decided to go for it.”

We asked Alice what being a council member can do for someone else:

“They won’t feel like they’re alone. They’ve got help. There are always people you can talk to. It’s nice to see all our faces on the screen, talk, laugh and see how we’re all doing. People listen to the council; we have guests that can take our views forward and make a difference.”

-Alice Parsley, Deputy Chair

Although Alice was a Quality Consultant before joining the council, it is not necessary, so if you, or anyone you know is supported by Discovery and would like to join the Discovery Council, find out more here.

Or if you would like to join us in supporting autistic adults and people with learning disabilities to #GetMoreFromLife see our current vacancies here

The Dimensions group (which Discovery is a part of) has been officially accredited as one of the UK’s Best Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute for two years running. Additionally, this year, we received a “Wellbeing” award and a “Great Workplace for Women” award.