First national help service set up for east and south-east Asian victims of hate

·2 min read

The first national support service for east and south-east Asian victims of racism and hate crime has been launched in the UK.

On Your Side will provide victims with help and advice from trained staff via a free 24-hour phone line and website.

The service has been developed by a consortium of 15 charities and community groups, with funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)’s Hong Kong BN(O) (British National Overseas) welcome programme.

Helpline operators will speak languages including Japanese, Chinese, Mandarin and Indonesian but will be able to support victims in any language via interpreters.

Victims will also be offered longer-term support, through signposting to specialist services such as mental health provision, and will be helped to understand their rights.

It comes as the number of police-recorded hate crimes against east and south-east Asian people rose by 48.3% between 2018 and 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK.

According to a Freedom of Information request by the End Violence and Racism Against East and Southeast Asian Communities group, there have been 5,866 such hate crimes recorded by police between 2018 and April 2021.

The real figure will be higher than this as not all crimes will have been reported to police, or recorded as a hate crime when reported.

Kimi Jolly, executive director of East and Southeast Asian Scotland, one of the organisations in the consortium, said: “People from east and south-east Asian communities have experienced a huge increase in verbal and physical racially-motivated attacks yet, up to now, there has been no support tailored to them in terms of language, cultural awareness and being able to record their ethnicity accurately.

“I know the impact of this first-hand. I’ve been violently assaulted, harassed and verbally abused.

“During the pandemic, I was asked to leave a shop when other people weren’t. I had sanitiser sprayed all over me on a bus.

“And I’m not alone in experiencing such incidents. Some people still don’t consider racial jokes made towards members of the east and south-east Asian community as actually being a form of racism.”

Hau-Yu Tam, head of campaigns at End Violence and Racism Against East and Southeast Asian Communities, said: “We know people can be fearful, reluctant or unsure how to report hate crimes and incidents.

“Using this service means that community members who are calling or writing in will be centred in the process. They are the ones to decide what, if any, information will be shared with the police.

“While the number and nature of incidents will be recorded, details remain confidential unless the individual would like help reporting the crime.”

The service goes live on Tuesday and can be accessed at www.onyoursideuk.org or by calling 0808 801 0393.