Ann-Marie’s story: “It’s about what you are inside that counts.”
This story is not to be reproduced without the express permission of Why me?
Ann-Marie Pearson was being bullied on her bus journey home, on a daily basis. On one occasion, a group of teenagers got on her bus, just before it reached the football club. They were invading her personal space, so Ann-Marie asked to be excused. The youths pushed her so hard that she almost banged her head against the bus pole. Ann-Marie complained to the bus driver, but was not listened to.
Ann-Marie talks about her experience here:
Ann-Marie was eager to convey her experience of learning disability hate crime. She wanted to be treated with respect and dignity for who she was, and to encourage other victims to report hate crime.
She told the staff who worked with her about her experience, as well as a Restorative Justice Facilitator (Paul Shaw) and a self-advocacy worker (Louise Lamont). Louise then took her to the Hate Crime Partnership to talk about what had happened. Instead of having to repeat her story time and time again, the Hate Crime Partnership created a video of Ann-Marie’s testimony. This video has now been shown to numerous audiences, including schools across the North East of England.
Reflections from Ann-Marie
I felt upset, uncomfortable, very angry, insecure, frustrated.
I want to tell people they can report. They can feel better and get their confidence back. The video I’ve made and talking to Paul (Shaw – the Restorative Justice facilitator) helped me to get better.
I hope people will realise they have done something wrong. I would like them to apologise and for their parents to realise what they have done.
I say speak to someone in the Police or Police and Crime commission. Speak to someone about the bullying. You are what you are, it is what you are inside which counts. Just be strong and courageous.
Statement from Becky Childs, Restorative Cleveland Service Manager
“We’ve worked in partnership with Cleveland Police, to embed restorative practice more neatly across the Force. In order to better communicate the availability of Restorative Justice and how the Police can promote victims’ right to access this, to have their voice heard and to hold offenders accountable for their actions. As such, we’ve created an Restorative Justice resource section within the Police Intranet site; on which we have included videos, challenged misconceptions about Restorative Justice and included quotations from Police colleagues who have had a positive experience of working with victims and offenders restoratively.
We are keen to continue building referral pathways, offering a service responsive to victims of hate crime. We have invested a great amount of time, integrating Restorative Justice as a readily accessible resource amongst the Police, Victim Services, the Courts, Probation and the Prison Service. As a service, we want to encourage the promotion of offer of Restorative Justice to victims of crime, at all stages of their journey throughout the Criminal Justice System. This is our vision, for a more Restorative Cleveland.”
With thanks to Restorative Cleveland