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Zoteria becomes a hub for the LGBTQ+ community

20 Oct 2023Vodafone Foundation news
3 minute read

Every year the Home Office releases data on the number of reported hate crimes in England and Wales. Last week, for the first time since 2012, the data showed a slight reduction (5%) in hate crimes based on sexual orientation, but still showed an 11% increase in transgender hate crimes.

Overall, there’s been a 37.5% increase in reported anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime over the past two years.

Teaming up with Galop and Stonewall, Vodafone Foundation’s Zoteria app provides a safe and easy way for the LGBTQ+ community to report hate incidents and get the support they need.

Student Max tells us about her experience using the app.

“Nobody knows I’m a lesbian”

Working at a coffee shop near her university, Max was like any other student, just trying to make money alongside her studies. Yet one day, while she was working, a customer started shouting abuse at her because she was wearing a t-shirt that said “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian” on it.

Max was really shaken by the experience and was scared to walk home alone after work in case the customer was waiting for her. Sharing her fears with her manager, she was dismissed and told she was being dramatic.

Furthermore, her manager didn’t write an incident report or check in on her wellbeing after the attack, but her colleagues began to notice a change in her behaviour. She was no longer as smiley or outgoing and she’d stopped wearing anything that identified her as being queer.

A few weeks later Max was forced to quit her job, because she felt too anxious that the attacker would know where to find her.

It was then that one of Max’s friends suggested she download Vodafone Foundation’s Zoteria app and report the incident.

Getting support from Galop

The app, developed by Vodafone Foundation in partnership with UK LGBTQ+ anti-abuse and rights charities Galop and Stonewall, enables people to report hate incidents, either against themselves or on behalf of someone else, and access support from LGBTQ+ charities.

It also provides educational information and aims to improve the reporting of trends relating to LGBTQ+ hate incidents to build a more accurate picture of the issue across the UK.

Using the app to flag the incident, Max also requested help from Galop.

Galop immediately reached out to offer emotional support and recognised her experience as a hate crime.

Max’s biggest concern was bumping into her attacker again, so Galop created an individual safety and support plan that helped her to feel safe, should that happen. Her mental wellbeing had also been significantly impacted by her experience, so Galop found Max long-term LGBT+ specialist mental health support in her area.

Although Max had left her job, Galop gave her the information she needed to formally escalate their mishandling of the incident, her rights, and the different ways she can report the incident to the police, if she wants to. Her Galop caseworker would also be with her every step of the way, should she decide to do this.

Becoming a community hub

Apart from additional support, the app features educational content, information on LGBTQ+ events and, soon to launch, the app will share the latest LGBTQ+ news.

Showing articles from two LGBTQ+ news outlets, the Gay Times and DIVA magazine, there will be over 20 new articles a month helping create more of a community hub on the app, as well as providing a space where LGBTQ+ people can report hate incidents and seek specialist support.

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