‘We want the town to be kind and welcoming’ - Todmorden takes a stand against hate

Kindness, Burnley Road, Todmorden.
Kindness, Burnley Road, Todmorden.
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‘Todmorden - a town for all’

That’s the defiant message from residents as the town unites in response to a reported rise in racist incidents and hate crimes across the country.

In a poignant mark of solidarity, it’s hoped that as many people as possible will gather at Todmorden Town Hall next Sunday, July 24, to join hands in a show of support and tolerance.

Beth Paramor, one of the organisers, said: “About 20 to 30 of us met at St Mary’s Church, in response to the rise in racist incidents nationally and wanted to do something about it locally to show that we aren’t prepared for Todmorden to go down the same route.

“The events that came out of this meeting were partly to say no to racism but also partly to celebrate the sense of community and kindness in our town - so they were events created out of positivity rather than created in a response to negative events. As the town hall is a symbol of Todmorden in general, we thought it would be a stand of solidarity and inclusiveness if we got as many people as possible to make a circle, holding hands, around the town hall.

“It would be a way of showing that we are all the same and want Todmorden to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. The events have come out of the positive feeling that we want the town to be welcoming, kind and happy.”

A banner will be placed on the roundabout for all to see as they arrive in Todmorden and a Facebook page ‘Tod’s Kindness Column’ has also been set up. Todmorden residents can post when they either witness or receive an act of kindness in the town. The event comes in the wake of a statement from Calderdale Council’s cabinet on hate crime.

It said: “As a cabinet, we believe that Calderdale Council should condemn racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally. We will not allow hate crime to become acceptable. We will stand with victims of hate crime and encourage everyone to report incidents to the police. We will work with faith and community leaders across the borough to ensure that Calderdale remains welcoming to all, and to support everyone in challenging prejudice and hate wherever it occurs.”

Calderdale Council already has a working group which is looking at what the council can do to promote cohesion. The group organising next Sunday’s event, which will be held at 1pm, is also asking people from across Todmorden to share ideas to be discussed at a public meeting - email Kirsten.Fussing@calderdale.gov.uk.