sophie

Incite Change and Kill Hate Crime

What kind of world do you want your children to grow up in?  My kids are little at the moment.  It is difficult to see who they will be when they are older, difficult to see what influences they will gather to form the people they will be.  It is hard to imagine them one day making their own choices on clothing, hobbies, friends or music.  It is hard to see them as people who will have a sexual preference.

All of these things will happen.  Our children will become unique, individual, autonomous people with their very own personalities.  They will portray their image in a variety of ways, some which we may not have anticipated or may not even visualised we would like.  But they are our children, and we hope that we would love them and support them regardless of who they grow up to be.  This is the essence of parenthood.

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However, there are wicked people in this world who target others because of the way they look, their attire, their complexion, their religion, their sexuality, their musical tastes…  Sadly, this list goes on.

A 20-year old girl called Sophie Lancaster fell victim to a group of these wicked people in 2007.  Sophie, from Bacup in Lancashire and her boyfriend Robert headed to a local park after visiting friends for the evening.  In the park were a large group of teenage boys who had been drinking.  They struck up a conversation with Sophie and Robert, and at first it all seemed friendly, the couple even handing out cigarettes to some of the boys.  However, from nowhere it turned nasty.  “Let’s bang him”, said one of the boys as he indicated towards Robert.  The violent delinquents unleashed their callous onslaught on Robert first, before turning on Sophie after she tried to protect him.  These boys attacked Sophie and Robert because they were goths.  Sophie died of her injuries 13 days after her attack.

In the ‘about’ section of my blog, I write about of some of the things I loathe.  These loathes include prejudice, racism, xenophobia, and intolerance.  These loathes are the qualities that motivated those despicable people to kill Sophie that night.

I feel livid that my children are going to grow up in a world where people like this exist.  It saddens me to know that my kids may not feel free enough to be the people they want to be for fear of falling victims of attack for the people they are.  It worries me to think that if they choose to be proud and open about whoever they want to be, that they will be constantly looking over their shoulders.  Is this the world you want your children to grow up in?

sophie
20-year old Sophie Lancaster, brutally murdered in 2007 because she was a goth.

The truth is unless we make some changes, this is how the world is going to be for our children.  We need to start inciting change and breeding tolerance.  The ghastly people who killed Sophie were little children once – babies.  They weren’t born with evil and violence in their heads.  I truly believe that.  Something must have gone wrong for them.  They became hateful, intolerant and wicked.  We have got everything in our power to teach our children that they should be free to be who they want to be, as well as to be accepting, tolerant and welcoming to the choices that others make.

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The Sophie Lancaster Foundation is a charity founded by Sophie’s family following her murder.  They wanted to bring educational programmes aimed at challenging prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures.  They want to influence change in attitudes, targeting the young people in particular.  In addition to educational programmes, they also want to change UK Hate Crime Legislation to include crimes against people from alternative subcultures.  After all, what is the difference between hate crimes against people on the grounds of religion/ethnicity/sexuality, and hate crimes against people because of a subculture they follow?

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation have created some innovative educational resources.  The Sophie Game was designed for schools, youth groups or young peoples’ organisations, for 11-year olds and up.  It has been shown that this age group is most susceptible to developing discriminatory tendencies.  It contains 30 different cards which represent people from different ethnicities, religions, social groups and subcultures.  It is designed to show young people that it is easy to be tolerant and accepting to people of different walks of life, regardless of their appearance or lifestyle choices.

game

The other resource that the charity has developed is for primary school children.  It is very new and was only piloted in a selection of primary schools late in 2014.  It is going to be available to all primary schools from January 2015 (now!) who are interested in utilising it.  Again, this pack is designed to challenge common preconceptions by facilitating a wide range of interactions through role-play, discussion, creative writing, art and music.  By doing this, children can explore their personal values and beliefs in the safe environment of school.

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What is striking is the amount of thought and work that has gone into designing these contemporary resources for our young people and children.  I think that resources such as these could be crucial to improve the attitudes of some young people that may have otherwise developed a negative way of thinking.  I would be delighted for my children to have access to a resource like this in their schools when it is their turn.

The only way that this will happen will be for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to receive more funding.  They can develop more resources and broaden their outreach.  There are many ways you can help them with donations, and I’m going to cover some of them here.

For makeup lovers, let’s face it, a little bit of black eyeliner is the staple of most comprehensive makeup bags.  For every Illamasqua eye pencil in jet black that you purchase, a donation is made to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.  If you haven’t heard of Illamasqua then please go and check out their cosmetics range, but your first port of call should be this link to their black eye pencil.  Illamasqua were moved by Sophie’s story, and have been heavily involved in the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.  You can see more about this story by following this link.

Eye pencil

For literature fans, check out this book, Black Roses, by Simon Armitage. The book contains a poetic sequence written from Sophie’s perspective.  Many of the reviewers of this book have been deeply moved by the connection it gives them to Sophie.  Some have suggested that this book should appear on the national curriculum.  A third of the profits from this book go directly to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

black roses

wristband celebs

For those who want to make a subtle statement, join an array of celebrities who are showing their support for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation by donning the Sophie Lancaster wristband.  You can purchase yours here, along with an array of other unique merchandise, the sales of which all go towards the charity.

Photo Credit gadgetsinfoavailable.blogspot.co.uk
Photo Credit gadgetsinfoavailable.blogspot.co.uk

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For rock music fans (me), a friend of mine has shed blood, sweat and tears to produce a 2015 calendar featuring photographs of modern rock legends The Darkness.  It includes some exciting, exclusive and unseen photographs of the band.  Don’t worry if you’re feeling alienated by flamboyant vocals, outrageous hair and guitar solos, because I can guarantee that this calendar will have something for everyone.

If handsome men is your bag:

Photo Credit Anna Banana on Pinterest
Photo Credit Anna Banana on Pinterest

If you adore amazing tattoos:

Photo Credit Anna Banana on Pinterest
Photo Credit Anna Banana on Pinterest

Or amazing tattoos and Gibson guitars:

Photo Credit Pinterest (unknown user)
Photo Credit Pinterest (unknown user)

If you fancy a bit of ‘tache:

Photo Credit Mirror.co.uk and Anna Banana on Pinterest
Photo Credit Mirror.co.uk and Anna Banana on Pinterest

And if you admire women who rock out just as hard as the fellas (their new drummer is Emily Dolan Davies), then you need this calendar in your life.

Photo redit Muzika.hr
Photo credit Muzika.hr

I’m pushing this one the hardest because it is the choice I made in supporting the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.  My calendar will be arriving in the post very soon!  You’ve only missed 20 days of the year, so don’t delay and grab yours by following this link.  (*The pictures I’ve just shown are not the photos in the calendar and this is not an official The Darkness calendar – even more reason to buy it – it will be rare and unique!)

Finally, if you’d like to make a simple, no-frills donation, you can do so directly to their charity by following this link, which takes you to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation’s website and straight onto their donations page. Alternatively, you can utilise TEXT GIVING by texting: SOPH with the amount you’d like to donate (eg 05 for £5 or 03 for £3) to 70070.

Whatever you do, I implore you to support this unique and worthwhile charity so that Sophie’s violent end won’t be in complete vain.  I’m certain you don’t want your children to grow up in a hateful world of prejudice and intolerance.  I’m certain that you would want them to feel free to be the people they want to be, regardless of their cultural choices, sexual preference, choice of attire, hair colour, religion or complexion.  Our children are little at the moment, but in a few years they could be like Sophie – expressing themselves openly, beautifully and harmlessly through their musical tastes, clothing, hair, and literary tastes.  The truth is, if the news headlines and newspaper reports are anything to go by, this supposed free society that we live in isn’t quite as free and tolerant as it should be.  Let’s collectively stop this right here, right now.

How will you be supporting the Sophie Lancaster Foundation?

And then the fun began...Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

34 thoughts on “Incite Change and Kill Hate Crime

  1. Thank you for sharing this Fiona – such a tragic story and it is so sad that we live in a world where there is so much hate and prejudice. It sounds like the Sophie Lancaster Foundation is doing a lot to help challenge this and I have ordered a copy of the Black Roses book x

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    1. Louise, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on this post. It is a painfully sad story and one that I never want to see repeated. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation are doing an incredible amount of work, targeting the age groups that are susceptible to going down the road of intolerance and hate. I’d love to see their resources available to all children at school. It is so heartwarming to hear that this post has prompted you to purchase a copy of Black Roses. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this and for supporting the charity. You’re a star xxx

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  2. What an amazing post. I hadn’t heard about this awful, awful killing of Sophie, it is just abhorrent. Her family trying to create something positive from such tragedy is just so amazing. I shall be making a trip to Amazon this evening to get the book. x

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    1. Thank you so much Spidermummy. I remember this story when it happened and was outraged at the time. Her family are incredibly courageous for creating the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m so glad that they do. This is such lovely news that you’re going to buy Black Roses. I’m touched that you’ve been touched enough to do so, I really am – thank you so much xxx

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  3. Gosh. What an amazing set of resources that they have developed for children – and thank you for outlining all of the ways to support the foundation. Like you, I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where people feel such hate. They too were children once – and we absolutely must do what we can to change things for our children’s future. XXX

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    1. The Sophie Foundation have created some outstanding resources, and I hope that they receive the funding to continue creating more. If we can make small or large steps towards opening the minds of those who are at risk of becoming hateful and intolerant, then we simply must do just that. Kiran, thanks so much for reading this and for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it, particularly because it is such a vital topic. xxx

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  4. Since I first heard of this murder at the time it happened, I have rarely stopped thinking about it. It affects me deeply as I believe that difference is a wonderful thing to be loved and celebrated, not a reason to hate, mock or name-call, let alone attack or kill. I am particularly struck by your comment that this hatred doesn’t happen naturally, it must be learned, which makes me think about an aspect of the Sophie case that saddens me most. In a public statement at the time, the chief investigating officer took the unusual step of criticising the parents of the killers. In a voice full of witheld anger, he said the mother of one of the killers laughed dismissively on being told what her son had done. I don’t think we have to look very far in his particular case for how he went wrong in life.

    The S.O.P.H.I.E. Foundation does wonderful work in schools to steer children away from learning the sort of attitudes that drove those boys to kill someone for looking different. I was very touched by a performance in London of Black Roses last year, followed by a talk with Sylvia Lancaster, Sophie’s mother. The production has toured extensively, please keep an eye out for it. In the lobby, there was a display of messages written by children in schools where the show had been staged. One of them, in a very childish hand and imperfect English, simply said “I wish this havent happened”. Even now, thinking of that message makes me well up. The more kids think like that, the better, and the Foundation is contributing to that. So can we.

    I’m glad a retweet led me to this page, your words are very heartfelt and moving.

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    1. I don’t think a comment on my blog has moved me as much as yours. I wrote this post because a friend of mine was doing work to promote the charity, and I wanted to help her promote it too. I remember Sophie’s story when it happened, but as I’ve delved deeper into her story in the last few weeks, I’ve felt compelled to write about it. All I want is for people to sit up consider the impact that ignorance and short-sightedness has on our society. Yes, I’ve given birth to and held two beautiful, innocent babies, and there is no part of me that believes babies are born evil. They learn it. We have a duty to each other to breed love, tolerance, acceptance, kindness and understanding and it starts with how we raise our children at home.

      The account you gave about the mother of one of the killers is nothing short of shocking. It really does tell a story… It never ceases to surprise me that people like that exist.

      I will be sure to keep an eye out for that production of Black Roses – although I can’t find any current listings for the production. I hope they tour again… That simple message written by a child is incredibly powerful. The Foundation are undoubtedly contributing to this attitude in children, and their message must be spread. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read my post and write such a moving comment. Take care and keep in touch x

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  5. What a shocking, horrifying story – and beautifully told Fiona.
    Great initiative by the Foundation – I’ve just bought some eyeliner! xx

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    1. Hi MummaMcD. Yes, horrifying it was. How can people be so violent and cruel towards each other? I’m so pleased that my telling of this story has inspired you to support the charity and simultaneously treat yourself to a lovely Illamasqua eyeliner. Enjoy it, keep in touch and thank you for your sweet comment xx

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    1. John, it was truly dreadful. Babies are certainly not born evil, it is learned. We’ve got to do something to change the minds of our society to be accepting, peaceful and kind towards each other. Now, I hope you’re going to be purchasing a The Darkness calendar, John… (o: x

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  6. I remember that story so well, so sad, and so pointless – but am so pleased to read of the positive work the foundation are doing to try and reduce prejudice. My friends son has suffered awful bullying and abuse for being different in this sort of way, heartbreaking. Off to get me an eyeliner, as I am never, EVER seen without my black rimmed eyes, even now I am in my 40s!

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    1. An utterly pointless death and waste of a young, promising life. Hearing about people being victimised on any grounds is sickening. Changes need to be made, and spreading the word of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation is a big step in the right direction. Enjoy that eyeliner! It is next on my shopping list! xx

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  7. That is a very tragic story, but I hope her foundation makes positive changes within society. Thank you so much for this – I hadn’t heard of the foundation before, but now I have.#brilliantblogposts

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    1. It is unbelievably sad. I can’t imagine how Sophie’s family and friends coped after this happened to them. I’m astonished at the courage they have shown in building this phenomenal charity and developing these innovative learning resources. Thanks so much for reading this and for your sweet comment x #brilliantblogposts

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  8. Reblogged this on The Blogging Goth and commented:
    We were written to by Fiona Chick, a blogger who wants to share how she and her friends are raising money for the SOPHIE Foundation. We’re more than happy to pass on her article about the work they’ve done, and the other ways we can all support this charity that is close to our hearts.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing this on your blog also. It is heartwarming that so many people care enough to read, share and put their hands in their pockets to help this charity. Do stay in touch. Take care, Fiona x

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  9. This vital post has made me cry, we live in a shocking, unfair world where prejudice of all kind seems to be thriving not diminishing. Thank you for bringing light to this cause. Off to support via text now.

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    1. Vicki, this story makes me cry also. Some human beings commit shocking violence against each other. I will never get over how senseless and wasteful this crime was. You’re right, this hatred does seem to be thriving and we can’t let this happen. Thanks so much for reading this and generously donating via text.

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  10. I feel I need to join in here and thank Fiona and the people commenting in response to this very moving blog. I shall declare an “interest” as I am the Campaign Manager for the SOPHIE charity. I have worked with Sylvia, Sophie’s Mum, following the horrific murder of Sophie, who I had known as a young child as she was a friend of my sons. We are a very small team of people who have worked to ensure Sophie is not forgotten and that her legacy, through education and the challenging of intolerant attitudes (professional as well as personal) will create a safer world for those who simply chose to be themselves.
    Our work in schools and with the police has been so well received that Sylvia was awarded an OBE last year for “community cohesion, especially in reduction in hate crime”. For this to have been born out of such horror makes the accolade so much greater in my opinion.
    We are not funded by government to do our work – we have had some small grants (never more than £30,000) and with the support of Illamasqua have achieved a great deal – however, we are aware of how much more we need to do. The messages I read (I oversee our social media sites) are heartbreaking at times – to receive a tweet direct to my phone from a mother who has just found a suicide note after their daughter had left for school (where she was being bullied) was shocking – all I could do was signpost her to agencies. We have had parents message us from A&E departments as they felt they had no-one else who would listen or understand when her son had been attacked because he was “emo” – He was wearing his S.O.P.H.I.E. wristband.
    For those asking – “Black Roses ” has been made into a film by the BBC and will be premiered soon in Manchester as a fundraiser for us – I will keep you posted via our pages. A shortened version will be shown on the BBC and Sylvia will have the full version for the charity to use as an additional educational resource – a very powerful one indeed.
    Blogs like this are so important as it helps us spread the message and we need all the support we can get. Thank you – Kate x

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    1. Kate, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message here. The work that you all are doing is invaluable. Making changes to the developing prejudices that young people and children are harbouring is undoubtedly a vital step in preventing horrific crimes like this happening again. Sophie won’t be forgotten through your work.

      I did see that Sylvia received an OBE. It is reassuring that she is recognised for the work she is doing and the ethos she has created through the tragic loss of her daughter.

      The story of Illamasqua (and Julian) supporting you so heavily really warms my heart. It isn’t often you hear of companies taking charities like yourselves under their wings and supporting them in such a significant manner. It has made me so happy to see that people have donated through this blog post alone. But it sounds as though you are in constant need of more resources, particularly when faced with members of the public reaching out to you as a support service for their loved ones. How do you appropriately and effectively tackle these circumstances?

      Kate, keep me updated on the schedule for the release of the film ‘Black Roses’. I looked for the theatre production after being prompted, but this is great news that it will be immortalised in film. I would like to help promote it on here nearer the time of release. And if there is anything I can do in the future that you can think of, please keep in touch and let me know. It has been wonderful ‘meeting you’ through this post, Kate. It is Jo of Optimum Impact whose work on her calendar inspired me to write about the charity, and it was a pleasure and honour to do so x

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  11. There really are no words for such horrendousness! This is an amazing post, thanks so much for bringing it to my attention hon. I don’t watch the news or read the papers, and things like this often pass me by. I am so deeply saddened by this world at times like this. As you said we all have to contributite to changing the world, so that our kids grow up in a better one than this xxx

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    1. Reneé, there really are no words that truly cover my abhorrence for Sophie’s murder. I’m delighted that I have been able to bring it to the attention of everyone who has read this post and heard about it for the first time. I’m certain that the work of the charity is touching enough people to make a difference. But wouldn’t it be amazing to see their resources taught in every school to every child and teenager? Only with more support and awareness will this happen. Thanks for reading and for your comment hon xx

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  12. It does amaze me how cruel humans can be, especially when it comes to something as irrelevant as people wearing different clothes. Sounds like the foundation are doing great work

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    1. Emma, human beings have the ability to be as hateful as they are loving. It is often tragic when this manifests itself in behaviour like that of the teenagers that brutally murdered Sophie. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation are doing absolutely vital work to combat this. They always need more support and awareness, I hope that the message gets passed on. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment x

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  13. Such an important post Fiona, and you have written with such passion and conviction. This was an awful event, sickening, and the work that the Sophie Foundation are doing is so important. The resources they have developed look amazing, I hope they will eventually be used in every school xx

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  14. Everyday I wonder what this world is coming to, I’m shocked & horrified by how cruel & thoughtless people can be, we have 6 children of our own & worry about the world they are growing up in, we do our best to teach them that to be open, honest, to be themselves, to be openminded, that being different is ok, it’s accpetable, to speak the truth & to accpet all people from all walks of life so that in some hope they will walk the right path, but, in a world with such pressures from other children at school, what they see & hear around them it really is a battle. Being unique, different is special, being who you or want to be is much better than being a sheep. No one has the right to judge people based on what they look like, the colour of there hair, clothes they wear, sexual preference, religion, accent or any other reason they may stand out, the problem is they do & others think this is right. Society tries to get everyone to fit into boxes & those of us that don’t fit or choose to be ourselves are made to feel unwelcome & unsafe in the world we live in, this is wrong. We are all meant to have freedom in our lives & choice but each & everyday it seems more & more as if this isn’t the case. We do fear for our children as they grow up, what will things be like, how will they cope & what hand will society deal them, we can only guide them & point them in the right direction. What Sophies family has done is amazing & should be something that is taken up by all schools, we know how being different makes children feel, our 6 are all uniquely differnt & sometimes it is hard to hear what is said or happens with them at school, then to be so powerless as a parent to do anything to help them is so heartbreaking. We have shared your blog across our business pages MadHouse Emporium to help raise more awareness. We need to learn to be more accepting, being different is something we should embrace, even Dr Suess has a quote about being weird. Sharon & Ryan

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  15. Reblogged this on alternative mistress and commented:
    In aid of the S.O.P.H.I.E. charity I urge all my darklings out there to read this painfully accurate article written by Fiona Chick.

    Please don’t bypass this opportunity to do good.

    There is already so much hate and conflict in this world. Why would you support more?

    Donate.
    Do good.
    Stay strong.

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  16. Hi Fiona,
    I just read this and I have to say that I hung on you’re every word.

    I to am a ‘Goth’ though I hate stereotypes. I am criticised on a daily basis for my style choices and music tastes.

    I have also suffered verbal abuse and physical. I have been spat on and chased because of how I look.
    But the worst of it all for me is the mental pain that I have endured because of a lifestyle that truly makes me happy.

    I was fifteen when I heard about Sophie Lancaster’s death and I remember feeling sickened by it. Has society really sunk so low?
    it’s awful how the world just bypasses everything evil that goes on. I mean, to get kicked to death for looking different? How sick could they be.

    I also have a blog dedicated to the Alternative lifestyle. I go by the name Alternative Mistress.

    https://alternativemistressukblog.wordpress.com/

    I have written a post on hate crime and would love to know what you think of it.

    I also support the s.o.p.h.i.e foundation and urge people to donate regularly.

    Losing a good person over the way she dressed was horrendous and the last straw for me.

    Something has to be done and it has to be done now. before its too late!

    I hope you don’t mind but I reblogged you’re post. I just had to share it with the world!

    Much love to you for this.

    Becki

    x

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    1. Hi Becki! Wow, thanks so much for such a thoughtful and beautiful comment. This post has touched so many people, some of those people have gone out and actually supported The Sophie Lancaster Foundation as a result of the words I wrote, which is just amazing.

      I can’t reiterate enough how strongly I feel about this sickening crime. Murder is never right, but on these grounds? Totally abhorrent.

      Thank you for sending me a link to your post – I’d be delighted to read it and I WILL read it – sometimes it takes me a little while to get round to doing anything on my blog due to my sprogs!

      I also have absolutely no objection to your re-blogging my post – thank you – what a compliment.

      Much love to you for your touching words. Do keep in touch xx

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Fiona,

    You’re very welcome.

    I wish a lot more people would write about a subject such as this. Look at how many people have had to suffer because of such ignorance. I’m so happy that someone paid notice to this. It made me feel as if I wasn’t alone!

    I’m a firm believer in standing up for what is right and if you ever want an inside opinion for you’re blog on the ‘Gothic’ lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would be more than happy to voice my thoughts and opinions.

    Thank you in advance for reading my blog.

    I hope you find something there that we chat about!

    Keep up the thorough posts.

    Alternative Mistress

    Like

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