A CHARITY for people with disfigurements is calling on Worcester residents to help stamp out hate crime based on the way people look.

Changing Faces, a national charity, says that every day people across the UK, including in Worcester, are subject to harassment and abuse because of how they look.

The charity's head of advocacy, Henrietta Spalding, told the Worcester News: “Being different in a society where there is such pressure to look a certain way is tough.

"We want to see hate crimes that target appearance recognised and reported. No one deserves to suffer abuse because of the way they look, and it’s time to break the cycle of hate in our society.”

The charity's first ever hate crime campaign is aimed at informing people with disfigurements about their rights if they are the victims of abuse.

Changing Faces is the UK’s leading charity for anyone with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different.

The charity says many people don’t even realise they can report abuse as a hate crime and far too often simply suffer in silence.

There are on average 67,000 disability hate crimes a year, and yet only half of those are reported to the police, a spokesman for the charity said.

Rory McGuire, 24, has a large facial birthmark and and said that his appearance has meant he has suffered harassment throughout his life.

“I was told that I was a freak," he said. "I was compared to an alien.

"I don’t think people realise how much that can get to someone, especially a young boy."

Rory added: "The mental side of the abuse that I had to face really halted my development from teenager into a young man.”

The hate crime campaign, which is funded by the Home Office, will encourage people, along with their friends, families and any onlookers, to be able to recognise hate crimes and have the confidence and the means to report them.

The charity also aims to see better training for the police so that they can deal with hate crimes sensitively and effectively.

Have you been affected by hate crime, harassment or abuse because of how you look?Get in touch with the Worcester News to share your experiences. Email reporter Jessica Charles at jessica.charles@newsquest.co.uk or call her on 01905 742206.