Sport stars step up to stamp out hate crime

Published Tuesday, 4th September 2018
Sport stars step up to stamp out hate crime
Johnny Nelson with young people aiming to step up and stamp out hate crime

Sports superstars joined forces with young people in Rotherham to help stamp out hate crime.

Former boxing champion Johnny Nelson and former professional footballer Bruce Dyer were on hand at New York Stadium in Rotherham last Friday as part of a restorative justice event.

They were joined by young people who have been using their community service sentences to help raise awareness of the crime.

Step Up Beat Hate is a project that has been running for the past five weeks in Rotherham, Sheffield and Barnsley by South Yorkshire Restorative Services charity Remedi. It is aimed at working with young people in exploring the reasons behind the increase in hate crime in South Yorkshire.

Sheffield-born Johnny, who holds the record as the longest reigning cruiserweight world champion of all time, said: “I have first-hand of hate crime having had to deal with racism all my life, including in my professional career over the years.

“No one should ever have to experience something as horrific as this. No one has the right to abuse someone, whether this is through racism, or because of how someone looks or acts, or the beliefs they hold. Hate crime needs to be stamped out and that is why I am happy to support these young people today to raise awareness in the hope it will help deter other people from being abusive.”

He will be joined by Bruce Dyer, who in his time as a professional footballer has played for all four South Yorkshire teams – Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley – during his career. The striker became the country's first £1 million-teenager when he joined Crystal Palace in 1994.

He added: “I too have suffered racist abuse, which is a hate crime. There is no justification for people being hateful to other people and we need to make people understand this is a crime and it will not be tolerated in any shape or form.”

Councillor Emma Hoddinott, Chair of Rotherham’s Safer Rotherham Partnership said: “Discrimination because of someone's race, religion, disability or sexual orientation is not acceptable. We welcome this project for raising awareness so that people realise just what damage and impact hateful actions or words can have on individuals.”

The work that has been done by young people during the summer project will be on display at the stadium this Friday. Both Johnny Nelson, Bruce Dyer and Councillor Hoddinott will be speaking about their experiences as well as some of the young people who have been involved in the project.

Remedi staff have been working with young people painting steps at the New York Stadium, designing posters, making keyrings and various other activities.

Manager Stacey Coombes added: “We have been talking to them about hate crime and what to do if you are victim. Everything we’ve done was with the aim of raising awareness and educating young people in how to report such crimes.”

Call Stacey on 07396 180803