Hands Together, Southend Against Hatred is a simplistic yet poignant campaign that was launched in November 2021 by community organisation Project Southchurch. The idea is to sign a banner as a symbolic act of defiance to those who wish to divide us through hate and terror, following the tragic death of Sir David Amess, MP.
It shows our strength through unity and that tolerance and diversity runs through the very heart of this new City. It also spotlights the positive actions of a community working together, challenging perceptions.
Following the official launch in November, the banners made a short tour of Southend to ensure we could get a diverse range of signatories. We are delighted that the tour continues, enabling this flag of tolerance to be signed and displayed by many more. Eight banners will be present at the City Week events and we encourage all event participants and attendees to add to the growing list of signatories.
Hands Together is more than a banner. It has evolved to become the focal point of an art project being undertaken by schools, faith and community groups, highlighting their views on tolerance and how we move forward together. Banners will be created in one location and swapped with another in the same field, and displayed proudly outside local buildings as a symbol of unity and solidarity.
It is also a campaign that works with the Police and local organisations to increase Hate Incident Reporting Centres and train more Hate Crime Ambassadors. It enables those facing abuse a safe haven to report and provides confidence and reassurance.
In times of sadness and in times of celebration, in Southend, we come together. Hands together is our symbolic pledge in the city year.