Mark Brookes is a Campaigns Advisor for Dimensions and this summer will celebrate 10 years with us. He’s a sincere and charismatic spokesperson for our #ImWithSam campaign and a respected colleague and influencer.
You might have seen him before; on our website, in articles and on TV. He’s been up at the crack of dawn to appear on BBC Breakfast, has written a number of expert thought pieces and spoken at the Houses of Parliament.
We met with him to look back over last year and find out what he has planned for 2019.
Ambitious for 2019
#ImWithSam is a national campaign tackling hate crime against people with learning disabilities and autism which Mark launched to the nation in 2016.
2019 could be an important year for the campaign and Mark is hopeful about the opportunity at hand…
Steering the Law Commission review
The government has asked the Law Commission to look at hate crime legislation.
The commission will review whether it is working effectively and whether other groups (such as people with learning disabilities and autism) need to be covered by hate crime law too.
Mark is part of Dimensions’ Public Affairs team, and he will be meeting with experts and other people with learning disabilities and autism to gather their thoughts and experiences.
This is our opportunity to get the voices of those affected by hate crime heard by the Law Commission and better protect them for years to come.
“My ambition for 2019 would be to work with the Law commission.
“I want to change the law for people with learning disabilities and autism, so that people can report a hate crime and people can be prosecuted.”
Mark has personally trained 1000 police officers on hate crime
A crucial part of the #ImWithSam campaign is training police officers – those on the ground who can protect and support victims, while ensuring appropriate prosecution of offenders.
Dimensions led a seven month training programme with Surrey Police APT officers.
Standing in front of police officers across the county, Mark helped 93% of officers feel more confident in engaging with someone with a learning disability and 90% feel more confident taking a report from someone with autism.
Mark’s work has helped Surrey see a month on month increase in the number of recorded disability hate crimes in Surrey, and a higher overall average for recorded disability hate crime compared to equivalent months in 2017.
“The experience went really well, the police officers were engaged and liked the story told around learning disability and #ImWithSam. Furthermore, they liked the workshop and we have received great feedback from police officers after the training.”
TV, radio and train stations for Hate Crime Awareness Week
Hate Crime Awareness Week is when organisations, campaigners, influencers and the general public rally together to spread a unified message against hate crime.
Last year, Mark used his influence to bring hate crime against people with learning disabilities and autism into the spotlight.
Mark joined forces with British Transport Police and spoke to travellers at Marylebone station (after 2017’s campaign at Paddington was a success). He was on hand to share resources and answer questions from those interested in making a difference.
He also appeared on BBC Radio Surrey and was filmed by Surrey TV talking about the week and his work with their police force.
“The week went very well and both TV’s and radio interviews went very well.
“The entire training was being filmed; afterwards the interviews took place with questions around the training sessions.”
On a roll with roleplaying
Sometimes, demonstrating what a hate crime could look like and how to respond in such scenarios is the best way to raise understanding.
In December Mark worked with Police Community Support Officers in a roleplaying exercise at Fenchurch Street station.
“I did a roleplaying day on Fenchurch Street train station with British Transport Police about a person with learning disability and reporting hate crime.
“We roleplayed someone having issues and the police coming helping to sort it out, so they could see how they can help.”
Showing Canada what they CAN do
Mark’s influence isn’t just limited to the UK. In Spring he jetted off to Toronto where he co-led a workshop around what England is doing to tackle hate crime.
Mark talked about #ImWithSam, what Dimensions does for the people we support and what British police and government are doing.
“I travelled to Canada for an international conference on hate crime where I did a workshop with two colleagues and shared the work involved around hate crime back in England for people with leaning disability and autism, the whole experience was great.”
Reminding MPs it isn’t all about Brexit
For the last two years, Mark has been joining the Public Affairs team at party conferences. But he found that 2018’s conferences were dominated by Brexit.
It was difficult to re-engage MPs on issues such as hate crime and benefits when their attention was drawn to European matters, but he persevered and found having his questions and comments prepared in advance helped keep things running smoothly.
“Last year party conference was hard because of Brexit.
“Talking to MPs was harder but within the workshops we were able to ask questions around health and social care which was good. However sometimes we did not get the answers to the questions asked.”
Advocating beyond Dimensions
Work for Mark doesn’t stop when he hangs his Dimensions hat up. He’s involved in a number of external projects and uses his experiences across everything he’s working on.
One project sees him collaborating with three other countries’ self-advocacy groups. They share their knowledge, experiences and help each other.
Mark is also on the steering group for the Mental Health Foundation, where he specialises on hate crime.
“I have been involved in advocacy for 20 years and with People First as a chairman.
“Advocacy is about speaking up and people having a voice to speak up.
“I help people to speak up.”
Find out more about #ImWithSam
Visit our campaign webpages to find out more about #ImWithSam.
If you are from the media and would like to speak to Mark, please contact our Press Office at: email@example.com or call 0300 303 9062
Follow @DimensionsUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.