Anti-Bullying Week 2020

This week it’s Anti-Bullying Week in the UK, which I think is a really important opportunity to stop and think about how you interact with those around you. Bullying can take so many forms, from “harmless” name-calling through to the type of hate crime I’m going to talk about in this article. I apologise because this isn’t an easy read, but then it isn’t a light subject so I hope you’ll bear with me…this is really important to me and I want to raise as much awareness as I can.

This is an apt week for me to introduce my favourite charity, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation ( For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story behind this charity, I definitely recommend watching the BBC Three documentary “Murdered for Being Different” (, which tells Sophie’s sad story.

Sophie Lancaster Foundation
Sophie Lancaster photo by The Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Sophie Lancaster and her partner Rob were attacked by a mob of teenagers in 2007 simply because they looked different…they were both from the “alternative/gothic subculture” and they were the victims of an atrocious hate crime. Rob was being assaulted by the group and Sophie stepped in to try and defend him, which unfortunately resulted in her being kicked and beaten to death by this group of teenagers. Up to twenty people were suspected of being involved, but only five people were charged and convicted of this awful crime. Can you even imagine how terrified and alone they must have both felt when this sustained attack was taking place?

This story really resonates with me because I can so easily put myself in Sophie’s shoes…there have been times I have been heckled and shouted out because of how I dress. I think the work that the foundation do, which is predominately championed by Sophie’s Mum Sylvia, is absolutely incredible. Sylvia has actually been awarded an OBE for her tireless work raising awareness of prejudice against subcultures through training and fundraisers. She is an inspiration in her pursuit of creating a lasting legacy to Sophie, trying to challenge the discrimination and persecution of people who dress differently.

Remember, before you leave a throwaway comment on someone’s post online or call someone a derogative name, you never know what that person is going through themselves. It all comes back to the discussion around being kind, and if we all work together with that in mind we can start to eradicate the hate crime that still happens to such a variety of people in their daily lives.

Let’s work together and




Hatred and



Sophie Lancaster Foundation wristbands I’ve collected from Download Festival over the years

If you’d like to donate to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to help support them provide vital training and education to reduce alternative hate crime then you can visit their Just Giving page:

As ever, if there’s anything you’d like to discuss please feel free to leave a comment or email me at


The Female Engineer

One thought

  1. You are right Em, this makes tough reading. Sophie Lancaster’s story resonates with me because of you. I believe we should celebrate difference, not punish it. I was proud to be part of Anti-bullying week when I worked for Connexions. The more we talk about it, the better equipped we are to challenge it. Bit like mental health really. Thank you


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