Last week was National Hate Crime Awareness Week, a timely reminder that there are still some for whom diversity is anathema.
The by-line for last week was: Challenge It! Report It! Stop it!
Whilst I am pleased that last week helped raise awareness of the issue, I want to remind everyone that hate crime is not acceptable at any time. I would encourage everyone to be ever vigilant.
The summer saw a spike in hate crimes, somehow legitimised in some peoples' minds by the EU Referendum result. I am hopeful that this rise is only short-term; to the victims it is devastating. Southend should be a welcoming town. This is a tourist destination, and this means that we want visitors.
All who come here, whether on day-trips or to settle should be made welcome, and in the majority of instances they are. However, there are those for whom the problems in their lives are caused by those who are foreign , disabled, of a different gender or sexual orientation, or have a different faith. Hate comes in many shapes, and we have to challenge it whenever we encounter it.
I represent the most diverse ward in the borough, a happy ward that it is a joy to represent. Yet, there has been the occasional instance of hatred. One instance is one too many, and whenever I have it reported to me I then inform the Police. Hate crime is not acceptable. The overwhelming majority of residents and visitors to Milton ward rub along together quite amicably.
Society is all of us, pulling together. Toleration is one of the pillars that supports society. Let's embrace our differences, rather than see them as a cause for hatred.