YOUNG people are working to combat hate crime around gender identity in Durham City.

Investing in Children, a community interest company, held a summit that identified bus station, on North Road, as somewhere that young people had experienced hate crime related to racism, disability and gender identity.

After being awarded £7,000 from the Durham Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Community Safety Fund this summer, participants are now planning to introduce ‘safe spaces’ close to the bus station for young people.

The project, Durham is Different, has now been officially launched after youngsters worked with North Road Methodist Church.

Adam Clark, 17, who is involved as a junior project worker said: “Being different doesn’t have to be a seen as a threat, being different is acceptable, in fact it is something that can be celebrated.

“We want to make celebrating difference more visible and help make the area safer.”

More than £140,000 in grants from the fund has supported 21 community projects aimed at cutting crime and supporting victims.

The funding pot was managed by County Durham Community Foundation, with a community panel deliberating over 30 requests for funding following an open call for applications.

Helen Mulhearn, co-director of Investing in Children, said: “Many of the young people we work with come into Durham, and the bus station was identified as somewhere that young people could be targeted for looking or seeming ‘different’.

“They decided to look at creating a safe space and have been working with North Road Methodist Church to see if that could be a good place to have some peer mentors so that young people can come and have a cup of coffee and wait safely and confidently. It’s also a way of promoting the fact that hate crime can be reported and dealt with by the police.

“The young people are also working closely with the community liaison officer from the police force.”