Sylvia Lancaster: Why Corrie Matters

It has been a couple of weeks since the Sophie Lancaster Foundation’s collaboration with Coronation Street hit the news and our TV screens. There have been huge amounts of media coverage about the storyline which featured an unprovoked attack on Nina and Seb, triggered by Nina’s goth identity. I wanted to let you know my thoughts on working with Coronation Street and why it is so important to the Foundation.

Coronation Street first approached us a couple of years ago to discuss the idea. As a small charity, it was a surprise, but we know people all around the world have heard of Sophie and have been affected by what happened to her. I knew that this story with Nina exists in a television drama and understood that it had to play out within those conventions. Having said that, the most important thing to me, was that the character and story had to be true and couldn’t be yet another flat, stereotypical depiction of an alternative person. Also, to really comprehend the true horror of hate crime, audiences have to understand the victim is blameless. This meant that Coronation Street had to find a way to create a character and a story that would challenge the often deep-rooted negative perceptions that people have of you if you are alternative.

From our very first meeting, the Coronation Street team have been very respectful and sensitive in their dealings at all times. They understood the truth at the heart of this story and wanted me to feel like they were doing it justice. The writers, production team, cast and crew have all been amazing. You know when you are talking to them, that they want to get everything right. It has at times been tough, although it has also been a very positive experience.

If you are alternative, you know how much harassment and violence that you can get, simply for being who you are. Since we lost Sophie, educating people that difference is not something to be afraid of, has been at the heart of what we do. It is an amazing opportunity to have a platform that reaches such a huge audience, to share our message of tolerance and respect.

Hate crime is usually targeted at minority groups. Our own response to it can be tempered by who these ’other’ people are, and how we instinctively feel about people from this group. I have been so pleased that viewers have really warmed to Nina and truly hope that it has changed some people’s mindset about what an alternative person is like. The storyline will continue this year and I’m sure will give us more opportunities to talk about hate crime and prejudice and intolerance.

So, what else is next for the Foundation?

We will continue our work to support the alternative community – the best supporters any charity could have. We hold them to our hearts as dearly as they hold Sophie to theirs.

We will carry on creating conversations about difference and educating young people to fully appreciate that it is how you live your life and the choices you make, that define you. That your fashion, music choice and personal taste just make you, you; and how much richer and better the world is for that difference.

We will continue our work in schools, challenging the prejudice and intolerance that is at the heart of bullying and help students to appreciate that their actions have consequences.

We will keep on working with the police and the judicial system to highlight hate crime against alternative people and support them in any way we can to improve the reporting and understanding of this crime.

Thank you so much for all of your messages and good wishes.

We are so grateful for your support.

Keep safe and well.
Love and Light.