Posted: Thursday 24th March 2016
My name is Duy Hoang and I am an advocate working as part of the AVoice Advocacy service, a collaborative inter-agency project led by The Care Forum with SARI and SEAP. It is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner and aims to guide victims of crime or anti-social behaviour (ASB) who are considered to be vulnerable or who struggle to navigate the Criminal Justice System due to their Protect Characteristic(s) e.g. race, religion and belief, sexual orientation.
Our aim is to ensure they can achieve the best outcomes through the criminal justice system and to empower them to feel more comfortable and capable in reporting instances of crime in the future.
As well as being a part time AVoice Advocate, I am also a part time Project Worker at SARI (Stand Against Racism & Inequality) working closely with and alongside victims of hate crime throughout the Avon and Somerset area. Having SARI as part of the AVoice service adds extensive experience of working with disempowered communities: particularly Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and LGBT communities who often lack trust in the Criminal Justice System. We have a specialist understanding of race, faith and culture as well as increasing knowledge of LGBT and Disabled Victims of crime and ASB. Our staff have skills in a number of community languages and are from a range of backgrounds particularly in terms of race and faith.
I never know what I’ll be doing or how my day will pan out when I come into work in the morning. A recent example whereby I’ve had to drop everything was when I was asked by a new AVoice client, Y to come into the Magistrates court that morning to support them with an ongoing neighbourly dispute and anti-social behaviour they’d been receiving from their next door neighbour.
Y lives in local authority housing property with their family which includes three young children. Since moving into the property, Y has been the victim of numerous racially motivated and xenophobic comments and abuse from their next door neighbour who has made it explicitly clear that they don’t want Y and their family living next door to them. Following a number of disputes which had included both noise and rubbish nuisance, this escalated to a series of malicious allegations made by Y’s neighbour that Y and their young children had trespassed on the neighbour’s property during the evening and made threats to kill.
Shortly after the neighbour began legal proceedings, Y came to AVoice seeking assistance and support as a victim of racial abuse, harassment and was being taken to court on false charges. As Y’s advocate I was tasked by Y to help introduce them to the Magistrate’s court. I also helped them to voice concerns to their legal representatives, since there were difficulties in communicating their views clearly. Following all relevant parties giving their testimonies and evidence put forward to the court, the Magistrates ruled that Y be acquitted.
Following this Y and their family continued to be supported as a Bristol Hate Crime Services case to resolve their housing needs – again another great bonus to having the close links between the two services.
Advocate, AVoice and Project Worker, SARI
For more information visit - www.thecareforum.org/pageavoice.html