Reprieve from budget cuts for Bristol charities supporting victims of hate crime

-Credit: (Image: Bristol Live)
-Credit: (Image: Bristol Live)

Six charities in Bristol supporting victims of hate crime have been given a six-month extension to their funding. Charity bosses had warned Bristol City Council that they would have to stop delivering vital services if their funding ran out in the autumn next year.

The Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination Service provides support with emotional trauma, reporting hate crimes, legal proceedings and more. The service is run by six organisations including Bristol Mind, Brandon Trust and Off the Record, supporting hundreds of people a year.

A large part of the funding for the services comes from the council’s “Bristol impact fund”, which gives millions in grants to community groups and voluntary organisations. This was extended by six months by the public health and communities policy committee on Friday, June 21.

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Speaking to the committee, Hannah Young, from the Hate Crime and Discrimination Service, said: “It’s increasingly difficult to fundraise in an environment with a massive cost of living crisis and pressures on public budgets. None of our organisations could afford to sustain the service with a six-month funding gap. It’s critical that we can see an extension of the funding.

“Your funding has enabled us to deliver a viable service in times of unprecedented need. We’re all aware of the hate that we see in our communities relating to Brexit, terror attacks, during the Black Lives Matter protests, and more recently in relation to the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza conflict, and a growing rhetoric of anti-trans.”

The six-month funding gap would have begun in October next year, spelling the end of the service. Leilah King, business and development manager at Off the Record, a children’s mental health charity, said the support would have “really improved” her own experiences of hate crime.

She said: “A break of six months of resources sadly means we wouldn’t be able to continue our service. It would be a huge setback and put our young people at risk. I myself am a lesbian and have experienced hate crime.

“Within our leadership we have a strong representation of people with lived experiences of the services that we deliver. Looking back, if I had the support of our practitioner, it would have really improved the setbacks that I faced in my life through experiences of hate crime and discrimination.”

Help on offer ranges from one-off advice to complex and long-term psychological support. Despite the six-month reprieve, it’s not certain that the grants will continue after April 2026. The Bristol impact fund will then enter its third round of grants, which could see many changes. The council is expected to consult the public this September about what changes might be made.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Stephen Williams, chair of the committee, said: “This is a good news story for the current recipients of the Bristol impact fund, because they’ve got an extra six months. But it’s not a guarantee that the same recipients will be the recipients in round three. There may well be challenges for the services.”