Child Care students at Nelson and Colne Sixth Form were pleased to welcome Sylvia Lancaster, from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to their classes.

Nelson and Colne College Sixth Form has an ethos of tolerance and mutual respect. Welcoming students from a range of cultures and backgrounds, the College is keen to ensure that its students gain a well rounded education where they can learn in a safe, yet inspirational environment. The Child Care students had an opportunity to learn more about tolerance and the importance of an inclusive society, after meeting with representatives from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

The sad story of Sophie Lancaster is well known in Lancashire. Sophie was just 20 years old, when she and her boyfriend Rob were attacked in a park in Bacup – for nothing more than they way they looked. They were kicked, stamped on and left unconscious , causing injuries that sadly Sophie would die from in Hospital. Sophie’s mother Sylvia set up the charity The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which aims to focus on creating respect for and understanding of subcultures in our communities. It also works in conjunction with politicians and police forces to ensure individuals who are part of subcultures are protected by the law.

The Child Care students attended a presentation given by Sylvia and learnt more about the work of the Foundation and many of its famous patrons from the ‘alternative’ scene. This includes the likes of Courtney Love and Adam Ant. In addition, make-up brand Illamasqua even commissioned a short film by award-winning French director, Fursy Teyssier. ‘Dark Angel’ is a haunting rendition of Sophie’s story, featuring the music of iconic British band, Portishead. The students were particularly touched by this film, which poignantly highlighted the issue and devastation caused by intolerance.

Sylvia Lancaster said, “ I am a firm believer in talking to young people within educational establishments and our work brings powerful messages regarding many of the issues facing young people today. Young people are of vital importance to our society; they are the people who will shape the future.

The students I met at the College seemed genuinely interested in the presentations I gave on behalf of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and will have given them a different perspective on bullying and Hate Crime.”