Mum has made cause her life’s work

Rossendale Free Press - - Sophie’s Legacy – 10 Years On -

SYLVIA Lan­caster has ev­ery rea­son to be an­gry - but in­stead she has cho­sen to ded­i­cate her life to peace and tol­er­ance.

“I think our work is re­ally im­por­tant,” Sylvia says, proudly, from the So­phie Lan­caster Foun­da­tion of­fice.

The walls are cov­ered in art­work and paint­ings, some cre­ated by So­phie’s boyfriend Rob Maltby, who suf­fered hor­ren­dous in­juries in the at­tack which killed her. The small staff of vol­un­teers work hours on end at var­i­ous events up and down the coun­try.

So­phie’s legacy has be­come her mum’s life’s work. And her ded­i­ca­tion to the cause oc­cu­pies most of her time. Peo­ple still con­tact the team - on a weekly ba­sis - to share their fright­en­ing sto­ries of dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate crime.

“They send pic­tures of their in­juries as well. That can be shock­ing,” says Kate Con­boy, a friend who has worked along­side Sylvia since 2007. “Be­hind the scenes of our so­cial me­dia we sup­port vic­tims and peo­ple who have been at­tacked. We hear about kids in school who are bul­lied and peo­ple who go to gigs and then get beaten up in the chippy.”

The foun­da­tion is sup­port­ing the Crown Prose­cu­tion Ser­vice’s new guid­ance call­ing for on­line hate crimes to be treated as se­ri­ously as those com­mit­ted in per­son.

But Sylvia is most proud of the ed­u­ca­tional work the char­ity car­ries out in schools, col­leges and prisons to chal­lenge per­cep­tions of peo­ple in sub­cul­tures. She even­tu­ally hopes it will form part of the na­tional cur­ricu­lum.

Though So­phie’s tragic death was the cat­a­lyst for this im­por­tant work, for­mer youth worker Sylvia said she had the idea even be­fore her daugh­ter’s mur­der.

“Even be­fore So­phie’s at­tack I was work­ing in lo­cal high school and it be­came very ap­par­ent that al­ter­na­tive peo­ple were picked on,” she says.

“If I was walk­ing down the street with So­phie and Rob I could hear peo­ple’s com­ments. So it was al­ways in my head to do some­thing. I had wanted So­phie to come into lo­cal youth groups with me so they could see she was a nor­mal per­son.

“I wanted peo­ple to see that how you look is your choice and you should be al­lowed to be who you are with­out fear.”

●● Sylvia Lan­caster

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