A Service of Hope and Remembrance was held at Bradford Cathedral on Monday 16th October, at the start of this year’s National Hate Crime Awareness Week. This was held in conjunction with Bradford For Everyone and the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance, and included faith representatives and members of the public in the audience, as well as Councillor Gerry Barker, the Lord Mayor of Bradford.
The service began with a welcome by the Revd Ned Lunn, Canon for Intercultural Mission and the Arts, and the Rt. Revd Dr. Toby Howarth, the Bishop of Bradford, both acknowledging the timing of the event in the wake of current events.
“We’re all aware of what is going on across the world and the impact it has directly on our communities in Bradford,” said Revd Canon Ned Lunn in his opening. “The heart of our response – even before events took hold last week – [was planned to be a] response to hatred, to stand silently, but courageously, together, in solidarity against hatred and violence.
“We have not changed that approach tonight. We stand alongside our neighbours and friends of different faiths.”
The Rt. Revd Dr. Toby Howarth said:
“Hate crime is something really horrible. We’re aware that many people in our City and District have been victims of it – and that is hate crime in many sorts of ways – your gender, your sexuality, or your religion. Many of us have experienced that or know people who have – and it’s horrible because it goes right to the heart of who you are.”
There were contributions from pupils from local schools – reflections from two students of Eden Boys Leadership Academy, and poems from four members of the Belle Vue Girls Academy – which were followed by a keynote address from Superintendent Richard Padwell, who is the Hate Crime Lead of the West Yorkshire Police.
“Tackling hate crime – preventing it, investigating it, supporting those who are victims of it – needs to be, and is, a priority, without any equivocation whatsoever.”
Frazer Ormondroyd – the Hate Crime Co-ordinator from the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance spoke next:
“Hate is a word that seems to increasingly infiltrate our everyday lives – whether it’s social media content, the news, on our streets, or in our workplace. You don’t have to travel far to find hatred.”
He was followed by a series of interfaith prayers – personal responses from representatives of the Hindu, Jewish, Sikhism, Islam, and Christian faiths, each followed by a moment of silence and reflection.
A pair of prayers, an Act of Commitment, and a Final Blessing brought the 70-minute service to a conclusion, punctuated by the interfaith representatives lighting a candle in unison, which will stay lit throughout the rest of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, and can be viewed at the Cathedral during its regular opening hours and around services. The lit candle is a sign of Bradford Cathedral’s renewed commitment to tackle religiously motivated hate crime.
“Thank you to everyone for coming along and taking part, and all the words that you have shared,” said Bishop Toby in his short conclusion.
“I’m aware that in all of our religious traditions, that there is a dark side. We can say all sorts of wonderful words, but some of the history of our different faiths speaks differently to the words that we say, so we own those and take that on board.
“But we’re also aware of the power of our different religious traditions, to inspire us to do good. We need that in Bradford, and we need that in our world. And it’s wonderful that we’ve got that, and one another, to encourage and to inspire us.”
National Hate Crime Awareness Week runs until the 21st October 2023, and you can find out more information at nationalhcaw.uk.