We have been given a special update by Kate Conboy-Greenwood, Campaign Manager of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
Following the horrific murder of Sophie Lancaster in 2007, her family wanted to ensure a lasting legacy to their daughter and so The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was established and it became a registered charity last year.
For those who don’t know yet, the aims and objectives of the charity are as follows:
To create a lasting legacy to Sophie.
To provide educational group-works that will challenge the prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures.
To campaign to have the UK Hate Crime legislation extended to include people from “alternative subcultures” or “Lifestyle and Dress”.
So far, to meet these aims and objectives the group have been promoting their work nationally and internationally to make sure that Sophie‘s name is recognised in the media and elsewhere. This has involved Sylvia Lancaster [Sophie’s mum) being interviewed and featured many times.
The determined unit has formed bonds with many established and influential organisations in recent months. Most successfully with Illamasqua and Propaganda. The help and support of these groups in particular has meant that the foundation has been able to access a variety of people within the business and beauty world.
One major highlight within the Foundation’s brief history has been the creation of a short film entitled, ‘Dark Angel’ (created by Propaganda) to commemorate Sophie turning 23 last year. The unique and emotive animation was premiered in Manchester’s centre and also on MTV.
Again, through Propaganda, recently the organisation was introduced to Huthwaites, an international training company – they have worked with Sylvia to develop educational group work that will incorporate the ‘Dark Angel‘ film and a game that challenges the perceptions of young people and hopefully professionals about people who are from alternative subcultures. These will be ready for schools after Easter 2010.
Other partners include the Anne Frank UK Trust, who include Sophie and her boyfriend Rob’s attack in their touring exhibition and in January 2010, Sylvia was invited to light a candle in memory of her daughter at the Holocaust Memorial Commemoration Lunch at Park Lane Hilton. They correctly recognise that Sophie’s death was a hate crime and represents the face of prejudice and intolerance in 2010.
The political and social campaign to highlight the issue of the prejudice and hatred faced by the alternative community has been very high profile and has led to Sylvia now being on the Hate Crime Advisory Board to the UK government and she is working closely with the people responsible for writing the Police Association’s Manual.
Having met with the Justice Minister, Jack Straw, at the Ministry of Justice in May 2009 to discuss the need to update the legislation, the foundation was pointed to examples of good practice in Local Government where they had been addressing the issue – Bolton council had extended their definition of hate crime’s to include “lifestyle and dresscode” following Sophie’s death. Sylvia is now on various local authority boards helping them shape their policies and procedure.
Socially, the S.O.P.H.I.E campaign has been very well supported and the group is now working closely with musicians of all genres. Recently in her TV and live appearances, Hole vocalist Courtney Love has been seen wearing a S.O.P.H.I.E wristband and selling them at Hole’s merchandising stand while they have been touring internationally. The foundation has formed a positive relationship with Love and should be working with her more in the near future. Other bands, including Goldblade, The Damned, The King Blues and The Levellers have supported Sophie‘s name by inviting members of the foundation to speak from the stage during gigs and also by selling wristbands from their stalls.
Most recently, a credible effort has been made by students on placement at Rock FM in Preston to promote the campaign, they have created a timeline dedicated to the group’s work. You can (and should) check that out here.
Funding has come from The Lancashire Criminal Justice Board, who awarded The Sophie Lancaster Foundation £30,000 in December 2009. This is to enable the foundation to prepare to and deliver the educational group work.
For more information visit the official MySpace and website.