Hate Centre opens in Wokingham
A centre dedicated to reporting hate crime has opened in Wokingham.
It is for people who are targeted because of their race, religion, sexuality, gender or disability. It means people who are being harassed in the town can now tell police, without actually having to walk into a police station and speak to officers.
Carole-Anne Bidwell, from the centre, said it will help Wokingham Borough Council and the police keep an eye on any issues, "The risk of anything major happening in Wokingham is very low. But if we keep on tracking it, looking for it and dealing with it, we will make sure it stays that way."
But Carole-Anne told Heart, even though crime levels in the town are really low, this does not mean the centre will be quiet, "There are issues and we do want to address them. We really do want everyone to be involved in the community and not feel outsiders because of harrassment or anything else that might be committed against them."
The Bradbury Centre at Wokingham Methodist Church on Rose Street is one of many across the country set up after the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. One of the recommendations was that places other than police stations should be opened for people to report incidents.
This is because sometimes people are too scared to speak to police, because of the fear of repurcussions against them.
The Bradbury Centre has been set up by CLASP (Caring, Learning and Supporting Partnership), a group of people with learning disabilities, hoping to involve others like themselves in the community.
As well as acting as a centre to report hate crime, the Bradbury Centre is also an Internet Cafe and point of access for people with learning disabilities.
The internet cafe will open every Friday from 1pm to 3pm and will users will have to pay £2 to use the internet.
There is also a cafe for lunch, snacks, tea or coffee.
Lisa Hookway, from the cafe, explained they wanted to provide a base for people with learning disabilities to get involved in the community, "We don't want people sitting at home. We want people out in the community and enjoying what's available in the community."