A training scheme is aiming to empower residents to step in and intervene when they witness a hate crime

Waltham Forest Council launched a Bystander Intervention training programme last week, with residents participating in sessions to help them recognise and diffuses incidents of bullying, harassment and hate crime.

The pilot sessions were delivered digitally to 30 residents during part of Hate Crime Awareness Week to trial the effectiveness of delivering these sessions in a covid-secure manner.

It is hoped that through training participants will become local Bystander Intervention Ambassadors, capable of sharing the knowledge and expertise gained from the training with others.

Although 86 per cent of the borough’s residents believe people from different backgrounds get on well together in Waltham Forest, two out of three have either experienced or witnessed a hate incident. Hate incidents have risen in London in recent years.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Emmeline May, one of the Bystander Intervention Training Participants. Photo: Waltham Forest Council

Training participant Emmeline May is one of the founding members of Waltham Forest Women Taking Back the Streets, a local group dedicated to stopping the street harassment of women.

They said: "I’m delighted the council is taking the findings from the Citizens Assembly forward through a grass-roots community-based approach. The session was a really good introduction into what is known as the ‘bystander effect,’ which is the theory that in a public setting individuals may be less likely to take notice of somebody being harassed if there are others around who are not intervening.

“Over time I’m delighted that more people will be taught how to respond in a safe manner when these instances occur.”

Cllr Ahsan Khan, lead member for community safety and the voluntary and charity sector, added: “Waltham Forest is a place where differences aren’t just something that should be tolerated, they should be celebrated. However, as we’re seeing an unprecedented rise in incidents of hate across London, we are working with the local community to address this at a local level.

“Earlier this year, residents told us through the Citizens Assembly that they want the whole community to be empowered to stand in solidarity against hate. The Bystander Intervention pilot is one of several programmes being developed that aims to change behaviour amongst people of all ages and backgrounds to collectively stand united against hate incidences.”

For more details visit: www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/waltham-forest-citizens-assembly

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @EppingFGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Epping Forest.