“We wanted to create an app that encourages the community and its allies to step up, come together and be empowered”
BY FAY BARRETT IMAGE BY ALEX GREEN PEXELS
It’s National Hate Crime Awareness Week so what could be more welcome than an app designed at keeping the LGBTQIA community safe?
Vodafone Foundation launched the Zoteria app today in partnership with LGBTQIA anti-abuse and rights charities Stonewall and Galop. It aims to bring LGBTQIA people and the wider public together to tackle hate crimes against the queer community.
Chief executive of Stonewall, Nancy Kelley, said: “We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with Vodafone and Galop on Zoteria. We imagine a world where all LGBTQ+ people are free to be ourselves and feel safe in our communities. That takes all of us playing our part in reporting hate and making sure victims get the support they need.”
She called for all LGBTQIA people and allies to download the app to “support our communities” and “advocate for change”.
Through Zoteria you can report crimes confidentially, whether they’ve been committed against you or someone else. Anyone who reaches out will be contacted by Galop who will provide a safe space to talk.
The aim is to build a more accurate picture of LGBTQIA hate crime across the UK by improving the reporting of incidents. Data is sent anonymously to local authorities so they can understand what’s happening in their area. Issues faced by minority groups will especially be highlighted. This is incredibly important given that racism and homophobia can stop people receiving the help they need.
The app also provides access to mental and sexual health services while also connecting people to local LGBTQIA events. What’s more, it’s free and can be downloaded from the App Store.
Computer engineer Marta, who worked on Zoteria, said: “We wanted to create an app that encourages the community and its allies to step up, come together and be empowered, by making it easy to flag incidents both as a victim or as a bystander.”
Zoteria’s launch is timely given the record rises of hate crime reports in England and Wales. Compared to last year, government statistics show there has been:
· A 41% increase in homophobic and biphobic hate incidents
· A 56% increase in transphobic hate incidents
Research by Vodafone shows that:
· 68% of LGBTQIA people surveyed were victims of hate crime in the last year
· Of these, 27% of them had been physically injured
Staggeringly 75% of those surveyed said they didn’t report the incident because they thought it was too minor or didn’t trust the authorities to do anything about it.
Unsurprisingly, given the number of LGBTQIA hate crime victims, 87% of people said they’d welcome an app to help report hate crime.
The Vodafone study also showed that people outside the LGBTQIA community were unsure of how to deal with incidents. Half of those surveyed said they didn’t know what constitutes a hate crime. A quarter said they wouldn’t know what to do if they witnessed one.
CEO of Galop, Leni Morris, said, “official figures only represent a small proportion” of what the UK LGBTQIA community experiences on a daily basis. She said the app would help them get “a bit closer to a future where all LGBTQ+ people in the UK have access to specialist support in the wake of abuse and violence”.
Vodafone Foundation trustee and group chief HR officer, Leanne Wood, said she was proud they had developed“an app that will help anyone impacted by hate crime get the help and support they need”. She said: “By working together, we can tackle LGBTQ+ hate incidents and make our communities safer for all.”
Zoteria is available to download in the UK, for free, on Apple App store and Google Play Store.
It is not linked to the police and is it an emergency app. If you feel in immediate danger, you should contact the police on 999.
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