HOPE in schools: the 2018 Christmas appeal

Nick Lowles - 06 12 18

When the video of a young Syrian school kid being wrestled to the ground started circulating on social media, people were shocked. The images were horrendous and have generated outrage, as well as sympathy for the victim. In this instance, the local council and school have ‘taken strong action’, according to the area’s MP, and police are bringing charges. It brought home to people what the small Education team at HOPE not hate deal with every day during term time: the spread of prejudice and messages of hate into every area of society.

Each year, we launch a Christmas appeal to support an area of HOPE not hate’s work. In the past, we’ve raised money to combat the BNP, to support our work undercover inside far right gangs, and to support community organising. This year, it’s a little different — we’ve asked people to come together to fund our work in school classrooms.

We go into schools to talk to young people about race, prejudice and hate. We do this so they can hear an alternative to the messages of hate coursing through social media and society as a whole. We choose where we go carefully. Based on a huge amount of data, we’ve identified 328 target areas around the country. And using a carefully researched and tested syllabus, our team is desperately working to counter those messages, to teach young people how to spot stereotypes, prejudice and hate so they recognise it when they see it happening around them and are empowered to call it out. The team run really interesting, innovate classes, using interactive games, presentations, Q&A sessions, and more, really getting students to engage.

Teachers tell us that they’re incredibly grateful for the expert insights of our team. Our team is doing a stellar job in really tough circumstances. This work is hard. We want to put the nuance back into the debate. We don’t spout slogans, we get students to think about their own values, and how to put those values into effect around them.

During the last academic year, we reached 16,983 students. We created 608 HOPE not hate Ambassadors – Year 9 pupils who completed a four-week course. We also offer teacher training in how to teach about issues of prejudice and discrimination, and how to spot signs of radicalisation in pupils and what to do next. Evaluations shows that 84% of attendees at our workshops with no understanding of prejudice come away with a strong understanding of the subject. We know what we do works.

I am really proud of the work the HOPE not hate education team does in schools. But we’ve got a problem: it is absolutely essential that we don’t charge schools for the classes we run, but we don’t have the funding we need to continue this work in 2019.

Everyone talks about the importance of educating our youngsters about prejudice. We do that, every single week, in the communities most affected by racist views. Because these are often isolated communities, schools in rural market towns, and forgotten suburbs, we fall between the cracks when it comes to the funding that large organisations give.

We’re ambitious for our schools work, and recently HOPE not hate supporters clubbed together to ensure we could send a book about holocaust denial, and a teacher pack, to more than 300 schools in our target areas. But as things stand, we don’t have the funding we need for 2019, in fact, we’re £25,000 short.

During 2018, HOPE not hate supporters gave an average of £20.87 each time they donated. We’re incredibly grateful. To hit this year’s Christmas appeal, and continue our schools work into 2019, we need 1,198 supporters to chip in that average amount. If you can support our Christmas appeal, it’s really easy to give – just head to donate.hopenothate.org.uk/christmas2018.

I wouldn’t ask if this wasn’t important. If you can join in with the many supporters who value our schools work, I know we’ll hit our target. It is essential that we do. The fight against hatred is as urgent as ever. Every class we’re able to reach is another step in the work we need to do to ensure there are fewer kids bullied in school, and more young people with the confidence and understanding to stand up against the bullies.


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