Sylvia Tribute – Book of Commemoration

As you know April 2022, we suddenly lost our Founder and Chief Executive, Sylvia Lancaster.

Following Sylvia’s death we were inundated with messages of support and tributes to Sylvia. We offered people the opportunity to leave a message of condolence and those messages have now been incorporated into an online Book of Commemoration.

Please take a minute to have a look through the book and read how Sylvia touched so many lives.


Help us to help you!

Fifteen years after Sophie Lancaster was brutally kicked to death for being a goth, we are still discussing the prevalence of hate crime against people from alternative sub-cultures.

In late 2018 the government asked the Law Commission to undertake a wider and more in-depth review of the hate crime laws than previously undertaken. A key question was to examine whether any further characteristics should be added to the current five strands which are…

Sexual Orientation
Transgender Identity

In December 2021, the recommendation came back that alternative sub-cultures should not be added to the list of monitored strands of hate crime. One of the reasons it failed was that there wasn’t enough evidence that criminal targeting of this group was prevalent.

There was not “a strong demonstrable need to extend protection to this group.

We have so many phone calls and emails telling us about the abuse, harassment, and appalling violence that people have suffered, where the only motivation has been their sub-cultural identity or appearance.

Fifteen years after Sophie’s murder, we are asking what has changed?

If there is not enough data that targeting alternative sub-cultures is prevalent, then we will gather our own. We have developed a questionnaire to find out how the alternative community is being affected by Hate Crime. (A Hate Crime is any criminal offence that is motivated by hostility and prejudice towards a person’s identity or perceived identity.)  We ask about the type of incident and if you have reported a hate crime, then what your experience of that was.

So please, help us to help you and fill in the questionnaire, let you friends and family know about it and together we are stronger.


Dr Sylvia Lancaster OBE – Love and Light

Dedicated to Sylvia Lancaster, founder of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, who suddenly passed away on 12 April 2022.

Sylvia Lancaster came into the public eye, following the brutal murder of her daughter Sophie in August 2007. Sophie and her partner were Goths (although they would not have necessarily defined themselves in this way) and were attacked just because they looked different. Sophie’s injuries were so severe that she died thirteen days after the senseless attack.

Sylvia had been a youth worker for over twenty years, working with young people aged 13 to 25 as an intensive adviser; providing support for those experiencing teenage pregnancy, drug dependency and emotional and educational issues. Through her training, she recognised Sophie’s attack as a hate crime and wanted the perpetrators to be sentenced accordingly. Sylvia was always grateful that Judge Anthony Russell QC who presided over the trial, recognised the crime for what it was.

Judge Russell said “This was a terrible case which has shocked and outraged all who have heard about it. At least wild animals, when they hunt in packs, have a legitimate reason for so doing, to obtain food. You have none and your behaviour on that night degrades humanity itself”.

Following Sophie’s death, Sylvia was determined that she would speak up for Sophie and for all alternative subcultures – recognising the intolerance and often violent prejudice they suffer, all because they are simply being who they are and true to themselves.

Following the murder trial, Sylvia set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation as a lasting legacy to Sophie and it was registered as a charity in 2009. It challenges prejudice and intolerance through creative and challenging outreach work with diverse audiences in schools, universities, community groups and in young offender institutions and prisons. The Foundation also works extensively with the police and justice system on issues such as victim impact and recognising and recording alternative subculture hate crime. Sylvia was convinced that current legislation is insufficient and needed to be extended to include attacks on people from alternative subcultures.

Campaigning nationally and internationally, Sylvia raised awareness of the Foundation and its work and was guest lecturer at a number of UK universities. For many years, Sylvia was a member of the Government’s Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime.

Sylvia was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2014 for her work in reducing hate crime and community cohesion. She was also awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Bolton (2018) and University of Surrey (2019).

For those that knew her, Sylvia was a formidable woman with fierce determination and desire for social justice. She was determined to make a difference and bullish enough to take on the establishment. Her legacy is the Sophie Lancaster Foundation; we remember a young woman, whose life was cut short by violence and in whose name we challenge prejudice and hate and work to increase tolerance and respect for others.

She will be very much missed by friends and family and thousands more supporters from around the world. She was a one off and a truly remarkable woman. There aren’t many of us who truly make a difference in this world, but she did.

Rest in Peace Sylvia.

Alexandra and Jacks Wedding….

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation has always meant a lot to us. I was 11 when Sophie tragically passed away, and I was just about to start high school; I had a gothic style, and I would be going to a new place every day with none of my existing friends, and it scared me due to Sophie’s story. I considered hiding my interests and my style, but in the end, I decided to be true to myself. I did get nasty comments, and I did get threats throughout my teenage life.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation gave me hope that future generations would not receive the same treatment that I did, or indeed, the treatment Sophie received. I’m in my mid 20s now and I still have a standing order with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation so that I can contribute a little something every month to show my support. From the times I’ve met Sylvia at various events, I know just how much work is being done at the charity, and I appreciate it, just as many others do.

My husband Jack and I got married on Halloween in 2020. Due to the covid-19 restrictions, we only had a very small and limited civil ceremony, but it still fit our gothic style perfectly. A year later in 2021, we were able to have our ‘big wedding’, with our religious ceremony (I am Pagan), followed by a big wedding reception. Instead of wedding gifts, we asked for donations to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. We already have everything we need, but the charity still needs the financial support to spread such a powerful message.

We set up a donation pot on a table with our guest book and any amount was gratefully received.

My aunty is also big into crochet – she is very creative with the products she makes and sells her work to raise money for charities. For Halloween 2021, she made some beautiful little bats and pumpkins which sold well, and then handed me the money she raised from those to add onto our wedding donations for S.O.P.H.I.E., which we are grateful for.

Even today we are still getting retrospective donations from wedding guests who couldn’t give us it on the night, and we will continue to donate what we can too. We are so happy we were able to use such an event to raise money for something so important.

Punks and Rockers Unite to Honour Friend’s Memory in aid of Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Our Friend Faren Short was obsessed with music and particularly live music, attending thousands of gigs throughout his life supporting national and local bands. Faren died earlier in 2021 after a brave and dignified battle with cancer; his legacy is one big party to celebrate his life featuring local live music from bands picked by Faren himself. Friends David Chinery (Chinners) and Ross Ferrone were given a letter after Faren’s death and asked them to put this fitting celebration together including a raffle featuring band merchandise and gig tickets along with a sale of some of Faren’s own home made punk waistcoats/t-shirts. His request was that all the funds from the event go to the ‘Sophie Lancaster Foundation’, a charity that was very close to his heart supporting personal diversity.

The event was over held over two days at the Madding Crowd in Bournemouth featuring 16 hand-picked bands that Faren would have most definitely approved of. A wooden cut out of Faren was made to stand on the stage and oversee all what was going on. The pandemic situation at the time brought its own challenges and there were bands than had to pull out along with people who could not come along. Despite these hurdles the event was a roaring success and £3470.24 was raised for ‘Sophie Lancaster Foundation’. Fazza Fest was such a roaring success the venue have invited the organisers to do it all again this year. It will be on 7th/8th October with some very special headliners to be announced in due course.

A cover of the Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the UK” was put together by Musician Andy Nazer along with a host of Faren’s Friends and presented to him before his died.

Words by David Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures by Matthew Rayner

If you want to get in touch with Faren’s Friend’s join our Facebook group here:

Hate Crime and Why You Should Report It

In late 2018, the government asked the Law Commission to undertake a wider and more in-depth review of the hate crime laws than previously undertaken. Amongst other things, it was also to consider the efficacy of the legal mechanisms, and whether any further characteristics should be added to the five currently specified (race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity). After initial phases of consultation, a consultation paper was published in September 2020. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation contributed to this consultation, as did many other organisations and individuals. The final report was published in December 2021.

The recommendation was that alternative sub-cultures should not be added to the list of monitored strands of hate crime.

The consultation proposed three criteria for selecting any new characteristics, one of which was ‘Additional Harm’.  This was looking for evidence that criminal targeting based on hostility or prejudice towards the characteristic, causes additional harm to the victim, members of the targeted group, and society more widely.

The final report stated:

“We therefore accept that the ‘additional harm’ criterion is met in respect of alternative subcultures. The work of academics such as Garland, the testimony we have heard from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and other individual responses powerfully demonstrate the way in which members of alternative subcultures experience these crimes as an attack on their core identity, and this in turn causes wider fear amongst the affected community.”

However, another of the criteria, ‘Demonstrable Need’ wasn’t evidenced sufficiently:

“However, we are of the view that the available evidence of this criminal targeting does not establish a strong demonstrable need to extend protection to this group. A number of consultees acknowledged that there is a lack of concrete evidence that this criminal targeting is prevalent, despite 18 police forces now recording hate crimes and incidents perpetrated against members of alternative subcultures.”

Sophie’s murder was recognised and sentenced as a hate crime, and as Judge Russell said at the trial, it was “equal to all other strands of hate”. The College of Policing manual states that the five strands of monitored hate crime are the minimum categories that police officers and staff must record and flag and use Sophie’s murder as a case study in unmonitored strands of hate crime. Realistically though, how reliably will hate crimes that fall outside of the five specified criteria, be consistently and effectively recognised, policed and sentenced?

We are committed to our work with the police and the judiciary. We will continue to tell Sophie’s story and raise awareness of the prejudice and intolerance that exploded into violence and sadly still does. This work will ensure that professionals in the justice system have a better understanding of the effects of violence on the alternative community, in the hope that this translates to a better experience for people reporting this crime.

We are asking for your help.

If you are the victim of an assault or a hate crime, please report it. Many people feel better when somebody has listened. We often hear that people don’t report as they do not have the confidence that it will be taken seriously, but if it is not reported, we will never address the scale of the problem.

Our website has further details of how to report:

We’ll be out soon at festivals all over the country. It would be good to talk to you there about your experiences and what we can do to make things better.


Please find links below to the full report and a summary report of the key findings:

Full report

Summary Report

Statement from Sylvia Lancaster

Following the news that the Parole Board have cleared Ryan Herbert for release from prison, Sylvia Lancaster has made the following statement. She will not be undertaking any media interviews at this time.

Statement from Sylvia Lancaster, Sophie’s Mum:

“I’m obviously very disappointed in the result of the parole hearing. Once again we have a justice system that fails to deliver justice. However much progress people make in prison, they have been given their sentence in recognition of the extent of their crime. The judge at the murder trial described the attack on Sophie as ‘feral’, with the attackers’ behaviour ‘savage and merciless’. Her injuries were so severe, the paramedics attending the scene could not facially distinguish if she were male or female. How can you bear knowing the reality of the level of violence my daughter was subjected to, and stack that up against reducing the minimum tariff because they have done well in prison? However they have progressed, the minimum justice for the family is them serving the sentence they were given. Her attackers may not have been given a life sentence, but I have.”

Dr Sylvia Lancaster OBE

Chief Executive

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation

16 March 2022 

For press enquiries please email:                                              

The Survived Lock Down Festival

Brierfield Working Men’s Club brought together a mix of emerging and experienced artists from across Lancashire for a jam-packed day of live entertainment on Saturday 20th November 2021.

Topically named, the “Survived Lockdown Festival” was organised by Richard Hepke & Steve Worrall, both parents to young drummers who regularly perform in 2 of our local bands.

The successful event filled the 200-strong upstairs function room, with nearly £400 of donations being raised for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity that works to promote tolerance and acceptance for others with the mission to stamp out prejudice, hatred and intolerance everywhere.

Bands kindly volunteering their time to entertain the family-friendly crowd consisted of Cosmic Slop, No Quarter, Rooster Rebellion, Reloaded, The Chimps, The Opening Scene, Lythium, Nomadic, The Switch, Overload and Prophets Without Honour with Burnley drag Queen, Elta Avelon, acting as compere.

The event was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Burnley who were greeted by Club official Luke Hamilton, with 360 Ambulance Service providing the medical cover and Jason Wood / Alan Wilson providing quality sound on the main stage.

What Price Justice?

Following the hate crime storyline on Cononation Street, I wanted to say a few words about working with TV drama and the reality of the justice system for me.

Coronation Street approached the Foundation to talk about Sophie’s murder and wanted to use hate crime against someone from an alternative subculture as the basis of a storyline. They wanted it to be authentic but were mindful of the sensitivities of basing it on a real event. I agreed, as it was a great way to raise awareness of not just what happened to Sophie, but of the violence that is still happening to alternative people, simply because of their identity. It was, and is, a great platform for discussing the issue and raising awareness with a whole new generation.

I was particularly pleased that the character of Nina was allowed to embed in the drama before the attack came. Audiences, many unfamiliar, with alternative people in real life, saw a character and personality and warmed to her. It was a wonderful contrast to the alternative people we normally see in the media – the usual stereotyped depressed person or the frightening or aggressive alternative, so beloved in the media as a cause of moral panic. The overwhelming response to Nina and Seb’s attack from Coronation Street viewers, was disbelief and fury that being different and expressing your own identity in your own way, is enough to trigger hate and violence. If Coronation Street covering this story, encourages people to examine their own views about alternative people or see being alternative in a new light, then that’s an amazing achievement.

Following on from the attack, many viewers were stunned at the court case and the outcome. This is where TV comes in. This story is not Sophie’s story. The writers are basing it on real events but are very much creating their own story. That is completely as it should be. It has been a pleasure to work with the professional team at Corrie. Enjoy the drama, follow the story, but remember, they never set out to recreate Sophie’s case and trial. I know some viewers were commenting on social media about their fury or disbelief at the trial verdict. The reaction to the Coronation Street trial, made me ponder on my own experience. I think in TV, we all like seeing the guilty punished and however heart-breaking a case is, we then feel like justice has been done. Unfortunately, that is not what often happens in real life, or what it was like for me. It felt like the justice system is based on finance, not truth. It seemed geared up to protect perpetrators and not victims. We get emails and phone calls every week to the Foundation, from people who feel the same. To be honest, whatever sentence someone was given – would it ever be enough if they took the life of your daughter? I will always be grateful to Judge Anthony Russell QC, who used his discretion to impose the stiffest sentences he could, in recognising Sophie’s murder as a hate crime. We were so very lucky to have him judge the case. In looking at what is legally seen to constitute a hate crime, it seems that other cases like Sophie’s will have to depend on luck as well.

What about the victims?

Sylvia was interviewed last week by Kirsty McIntosh, Senior Crime and Court Reporter at The Courier newspaper based in Dundee, Scotland. Kirsty approached the Foundation following a court hearing about an attack in Fife, where a 16 year old girl stamped on a young Goth female’s head. The attack followed online threats of violence. Alastair Brown, Sheriff at the Dunfermline Court, told her she could easily have killed her victim.

In the last couple of weeks we have seen shocking levels of violence against Goths reported to us. In our education work we are completely committed to working with young people who have not thought about the consequences of their actions. We also believe that we need to give people a chance to move on and learn when they make a bad choice or decision.

What we are talking about here though, is people potentially talking somebody’s life, just because of what they look like. Perhaps the perpetrator is young and needs to learn. It seems in this case, like in many others however, the victim is being forgotten.