Portsmouth silences hate with a united voice


Portsmouth City Council partners with Portsmouth Football Club and Pompey in the Community to produce an anti-discrimination film.

Produced by Portsmouth City Council, the film stars prominent members of Portsmouth Football Club, fans and a local poet who penned the poem that is read out in the film.

Prompted by a rise in hate crimes across the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the high-profile incidents aimed at England football players following the Euros 2020 penalty shootout, this film is released at the start of National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2021 and during Black History Month.

Local poet Majid Dhana, who has lived in Portsmouth since 2005, wrote the poem titled ‘Illuminated Voices’ to help unify the city against this trend.

Portsmouth Football Club manager Danny Cowley, along with some of the players and fans, was filmed speaking the words of the poem in different locations in Portsmouth, highlighting that this is not just a football problem, but a problem that everyone has a role in preventing.

Cllr Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment, said:

“This year’s theme for Black History Month is Proud To Be and I’m proud to be part of this great city. Majid’s poem is Portsmouth to the core. We are a culturally diverse city and that should be celebrated – it makes us who we are.

“Discrimination of all forms is unacceptable in an inclusive society. Portsmouth is a close-knit city with strong bonds between people of all backgrounds. This film will help to heal the wounds caused by the pandemic in which people became less tolerant during lockdown. I welcome this film which demonstrates Portsmouth people have the intent to make sure love wins over hate.

“This Black History Month, Hate Crime Awareness Week and beyond, let’s stand as one and silence the voices of hate. Whilst this film is particularly about racism, we stand with Portsmouth Football Club that hate and discrimination of any type has no place in football, in Portsmouth or in society as a whole.”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said:

“Hatred and intolerance is caused by a minority of people in Portsmouth but it can have a disproportionate impact on many. Portsmouth is a strong city with a great history of unity and this collaboration between Portsmouth City Council and Pompey is a wonderful way of showing this unity.”

Of the poem used in the film, author Majid Dhana said:

“I was inspired to write this poem by my own experiences but also the experiences of other people in the city. Portsmouth is a wonderful place to live, it is welcoming and diverse but occasionally people are intolerant. We can support each other by illuminating the voices of love and tolerance which will drown out the haters. We are on the same team, together we will win.”

Illuminated Voices (written by Majid Dhana)

Welcome to Portsmouth, a city with soul within,
An island we call home, a place for us to win.

The floodlights on from darkness to light,
Together we stand united, stronger we fight.

This city has passion, respect and pride,
Play up Pompey this blue army is made of you and I.

No matter the colour or shade of your skin,
We’re in this race together, one team to the end.

Together we silence the voices of hate,
Disrespect has no place in our island state.

The blue shirt is the colour of our team,
Not white not black: Blue is what we scream.

Portsmouth is our home, we are one team.
Together we cry, smile and dream.

So join together, illuminate our voices.
Help our teammates make the right choices.

Portsmouth against hate, we are on the same team,
Silence the haters, together we will win.

Starring in the short film are (in order of appearance):

Danny Cowley, Manager, Portsmouth Football Club
Duke Harrison-Hunter, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator for Pompey in the Community
Steve Hopes, Portsmouth resident and Pompey fan
Louis Thompson, Midfielder, Portsmouth Football Club
Cherelle Khassal, Striker, Portsmouth Football Club Women
Pete Andrew, Portsmouth resident and Pompey fan
Gavin Bazunu, Goalkeeper, Portsmouth Football Club
Majid Dhana, Poet, Portsmouth resident and Pompey fan
Pete Andrew, who appears in the film, has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user.

“I love Portsmouth and I love football but sometimes people don’t show each other love, whether that is because they have a different colour skin or because they are disabled. This film is about being on the same team and about looking out for each other whoever you are. Play up Pompey.”

The video will be launched on Portsmouth Football Club’s social channels on the first date of Hate Crime Awareness Week, Saturday 9 October. It will be available on Portsmouth City Council’s YouTube channel from Saturday 9 October 12 pm, and Monday 11 October at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/blackhistorymonth. Hate Crime Awareness Week runs from 9-16 October 2021.

Black History Month takes place annually in October and is a month-long event dedicated to recognising the contribution of those in the UK with African or Caribbean heritage. This year’s theme invites Black and Brown people of all ages in Portsmouth and nationally to share what they are ‘Proud To Be’.