An eye-catching mural has brightened up a high street to raise awareness of an anti-hate crime initiative.

Southend Business Improvement District has commissioned London-based artist Roo to paint the image of a rat and lion as part of the organisation’s commitment to creating an environment in the town centre where hate crime becomes a thing of the past.

Southend BID Manager, Suzanne Gloyne said: “Like many seaside towns, and indeed, the UK in general, Southend is a diverse community, composed of people from all manner of backgrounds, cultures and religions.

"During the summer months and other holiday periods, this almost invariably increases with visitors from London, nearby counties and overseas.

"Not only that, individuals and their families choose to relocate to Southend, to pursue careers in key institutions like our schools and hospitals, or to take up roles in places like our shops, restaurants, factories and any other place of work you can think of. So, it is important that we say to everyone that you are valued, welcomed and appreciated in our town.”

The appearance of Roo’s striking image under the railway bridge spanning the High Street has also been planned to help highlight the forthcoming National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which runs from October 12 to 19. 

A hate crime is typically one that involves violence or a form of abuse that is motivated by hostility or prejudice on the basis of a person’s race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, or disability.


Striking - the high street mural

Any incident which may or may not be a crime, that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of someone’s identity is termed a hate incident.

Ms Gloyne added: “While the statistics for hate crime appear to be very low, we cannot afford to be complacent nor tolerate such criminal behaviour. In short, if you think it is a hate crime, it is. Whatever you are abused for being, if you call the police they will respond.” 

“If you have been affected by hate crime, please report it to the police. Reporting makes a difference – to you, your friends and your community.”