An acclaimed education session on anti-bullying and hate crime by the Sophie Lancaster Foundation will be hosted at Countesthorpe Leysland Community College.
The event was created for students following the murder of Sophie Lancaster, who was 20-years-old when she and her boyfriend Rob Maltby were attacked in a Lancashire park in 2007. Sophie never regained consciousness and died 13 days later as a result of her severe head injuries.
Following her death, Sylvia Lancaster OBE, mother of Sophie, created a lasting legacy for her daughter by setting up The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
“Black Roses” includes a film featuring Sylvia and recollections of her daughter with first-person poetry, written by English poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage.
A panel of guests, including Sylvia, Julian Robertson from the Youth Offending Service and Inspector Emma Maxwell, NPA Commander for Hinckley and Blaby will discuss the topic of hate crime with staff and students after the film. Inspirational teenager Ellie Spokes, 14, will also be on the panel to talk about the bullying she has been a victim of at a school in Leicestershire.
Ellie, who has dwarfism, has battled through her bullying ordeal and has represented Team GB in swimming at the World Dwarf Games alongside team-mate Ellie Simmonds OBE. She will also be competing in the British Para Swimming International in May.
Councillor Lee Breckon, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said:
“Black Roses is a well-known and powerful event that we hope will have a positive impact on students. This event has taken place at a school in Hinckley and because of its success we wanted young people in the district to see the film.
“We are looking forward to welcoming both Sylvia and Ellie, who will be able to give us all an insight into the devastating effect hate crimes can have on victims.”
Sylvia Lancaster OBE said:
“Our work in Leicestershire is very important to us. We started to work with Darren Goddard, Hate Crime Officer, several years ago and it has led to us training teachers, the police and reaching many school students.
“This partnership between the Foundation, the Council and Police is the most effective way to teach that hate and prejudice will not be tolerated in our communities and everyone should be free to be themselves, without fear of abuse. Thank you for inviting us back to Leicestershire to work with you once more.”
Kat Morris, Citizenship co-ordinator at Countesthorpe Leysland Community College, said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity to share Sophie Lancaster’s story. We want to make sure our students know that being different is not something that should ever be feared.”
Students from years 9 and 10 will be shown the film and take part in the question and answer panel on the morning of Friday 16 March.
More information about the Sophie Lancaster Foundation can be found by visiting https://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com.