The effects of racism are felt throughout the world, and more must be done to help those who are enduring this blight on humanity. Promoting respect for others is a vital step in helping us to celebrate our differences - an ambition shared by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which promotes Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January each year.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust's (HDMT) stated goal is 'to encourage people to learn lessons from the past and take steps to challenge hatred and persecution'. And the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day this year is 'keep the memory alive'. As you might imagine, these are ideas that mean a great deal to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.
Education and awareness are at the heart of the work of both charities. We believe schools are one of the most important places for us to focus our energy so we can help young people to speak out against bullying and racism.
We need to challenge children to think about racism and its effects - for them to think about our differences, to challenge behaviour where necessary, and to encourage tolerance and respect between all groups. And schools themselves must show their commitment to providing an inclusive education - and this means challenging their own thinking and training teachers to make race equality a reality.
For example, last year the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust worked closely with local secondary schools on issues of identity and difference, with a workshop programme designed to bring added value to each school's spiritual, moral, social and cultural development work, including citizenship, and which focused on breaking down barriers and potential rivalry within and across schools in the community. The idea behind it is that by sharing their knowledge and beliefs around identity and what it means to be different, young people can choose to follow a path which celebrates diversity.
Similarly, HMDT's resources for schools enable teachers to use the opportunity of Holocaust Memorial Day to challenge their students to consider the consequences of when respect breaks down. Though the UK is not at risk of genocide, hate crime and racial prejudice still scar our society. And these warnings from history challenge us to think about our own behaviour. Are we always respectful of difference? Are our communities as inclusive and welcoming as they could be? Are we prepared to challenge discrimination and hate crime?
It is important to engage with and encourage our community to continue their efforts to stand up against racism and hate crime by working together to pursue the dignity of difference. Holocaust Memorial Day is an affirmation that we should fight against intolerance and promote integration. All communities should work together to raise awareness of the suffering of others.
As a nation we are all the same, but different. Similarity is what unites us, difference is what enriches us.