Posted on 12th June 2019

A support service which helps young victims of crime is trying to stamp out hate crime in Halton, Cheshire by teaching young people about its dangers.

Got Your Back is a pilot programme funded by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner. It aims to offer support to victims of crime under the age of 18 whether they’ve reported the crime to the police or not.

One of its main priorities is to help young people realise what a hate crime is and over the last six months, its two support workers have delivered their hate crime awareness workshop to 700 young people in schools, colleagues and youth groups in Runcorn and Widnes.

Lisa Gill, manager of Got Your Back, said: “The workshops help young people understand what a hate crime is, what to do if they feel they have been a victim or know someone who has been affected and how to report it.

“There’s a real difference in the level of understanding of hate crime amongst young people across Halton. One teenager we spoke to had been convicted of a hate crime but he admitted that he didn’t know why what he had done wrong was considered to be motivated by hate.

“The workshops are very interactive and enable young people to come up with ideas around how they can support someone who has experienced a hate crime. They also help them understand the impact hate crime can have on the wider community.”

Through their one-to-one support sessions, Got Your Back has also helped 54 young victims who have been affected by a range of offences - from witnessing an armed robbery or being assaulted, to being bullied or receiving threats over social media.

“We supported a young person who was not accessing education as she was bullied in school and online. She was too scared to get on a bus or be in a busy space. Following our support, she’s now back in education and she called her support worker to let her know that she had been on the bus on her own; her confidence has grown massively.

“Another young person we supported following an assault. We helped her access specialist support through mental health services to help her recover from her ordeal.

“The feedback we’ve received from parents and teachers has been amazing. They’ve noticed a real difference in the young person’s behaviour. It’s a privilege to be part of a service that helps young people feel safer in their community”, added Lisa.

Got Your Back is continuing to work with its partners including Cheshire police to obtain more referrals to enable them to make a difference to even more young peoples’ lives. It’s also reaching out to young people via social media to support those young people who may be unsure about accessing support.

“We understand that young people might initially be nervous about getting in touch but our support workers are really friendly and they’ll tailor support to match the young person’s needs”, Lisa concluded.

David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, added: “Got Your Back is doing a fantastic job to ensure young victims of crime have the right support to recover from their ordeal and are not suffering in silence.

“What’s unique about this service is the team offer support for victims who may not have reported it to the police. That means that serious issues like bullying can be tackled before they turn into crimes.

“I’d like to see similar services rolled-out across the whole of Cheshire to ensure our young people have access to the right support if they have been a victim of crime.”