OneConversation has developed a project teaming up with local schools to address stereotypes around disability that children and adolescents can be exposed to in their formative years.
It is having a big impact in changing perceptions at an early age, preventing the future potential for hate crime, by allowing young people to engage with and have an honest conversation with learning-disabled and autistic people and understand their experience more.
The charity relies on funding to keep running these important schemes and said a new opportunity for organisations like theirs to bid for a share £300,000 from Nottinghamshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner could make a huge difference to their viability and credibility.
The Make Notts Safe thematic grants scheme allows organisations to bid for funding in three thematic areas – hate crime, rural crime and community crime – with £100,000 available in three categories.
Tracy Radford, activist at OneConversation, which has previously benefitted from funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It makes all the difference.
"We lunge from project fund to project fund – this is the lifeblood of what we do – this is what sustains us. It allows us to continue to make a difference.
OneConversation was launched in 2018 as a group of activists who wanted to change the way learning-disabled and autistic people were treated. It started with organised public activism and protest and developed to include working with hundreds of children in Nottinghamshire schools to ensure learning-disabled and autistic people were not excluded from society. It became a registered charity in 2020.
Activist Brad English said: “Young people are often the perpetrators of hate crime. We go to the future potential offenders and work with them through the art of honest conversation and discussion about life and their ideologies.
“It’s about being around learning disabled and autistic adults who would be potential victims of hate, to break down the stigma. We believe in positive engagement – shifting the thinking among young people.
“We base it on the principles of community psychology. Stigma and discrimination between groups can be addressed by contact and exposure and finding shared goals. We get consistently good feedback from pupils and teachers alike in terms of changing thinking.
“It is turning it on its head – going further upstream and stopping it before it happens.”
The Make Notts Safe thematic grants, from Nottinghamshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, are open to all third-sector organisations and charities that are registered on Companies House or the Charity Commission.
Organisations can bid for multi-year funding over one, two or three years, with all funding being spent by March 2025 at the latest.
It is also possible for organisations to bid for funding in more than one of the three £100,000 funding pots.
The final deadline for applications is on September 15.