‘Bin the Bigotry’ is a campaign currently running in North Lanarkshire which seeks to challenge sectarian attitudes through innovative advertising campaigns. It is a partnership between the public, private and voluntary sector and driven forward by full service fleet media company Agripa as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility Programme.
In a Scottish context sectarianism has tended to focus on tensions between those who identify themselves (or others) as belonging to either the Catholic or Protestant communities. In recent years sectarianism has been one of the most high profile issues in Scottish society with successive governments passing legislation to tackle it and funding projects aimed at raising awareness of its harmful impacts on society. In December 2013 the Scottish Government’s Independent Advisory group on sectarianism published a list of recommendations for action to tackle this problem. These included specific recommendations for local authorities and encouragement for local community based campaigns to raise awareness of the issue. Since 2003 over 7,000 people have been arrested for sectarian offences across the country ranging from verbal abuse, damage to property, posting threatening material online, physical assaults and in, extreme cases, murder. Crown Office figures highlight that a third of all sectarian related arrests are related to football with the rivalry between Glasgow’s ‘Old Firm’ clubs Celtic and Rangers being a particular issue.
The North Lanarkshire area is second only to Glasgow for the number of arrests for sectarian behaviour across Scotland. These offences include verbal abuse, vandalism, discrimination in the workplace/community settings and violence. A number of anti sectarian initiatives have been operational in the area over the last few years ranging from work in schools, programs between religious communities, community dialogue events and youth projects.
Agripa are a full service fleet media company operating across the public and private sector. We have a broad portfolio of clients including major supermarkets, retailers and over 270 local authorities throughout the UK. We are proud to be members of the Living Wage Foundation and are avid campaigners for social change”.
Nil by Mouth was set up by Glasgow teenager Cara Henderson following the brutal sectarian murder of her school friend Mark Scott in 1995 as he was returning home from a football match. His killer identified Mark as belonging to a religious community simply due to the colour of the football strip he was wearing. It works in schools, workplaces and communities across Scotland.
Stand up to Sectarianism is Youth Scotland’s training and funding programme to encourage youth groups to tackle sectarianism.
North Lanarkshire Council is a Scottish local authority catering for a population of over 320,000. The North Lanarkshire Partnership brings together council, police and Fire representatives and voluntary bodies in a community safety framework within the local authority area.
“While we are obviously a commercial company, we believe in social responsibility. To coincide with the forthcoming Old Firm game we developed a series of anti-sectarian adverts with charities Nil by Mouth and Stand up to Sectarianism. They will be displayed on the sides of waste vehicles using our unique and highly flexible frame and mounting system. We developed this campaign for bin lorries because, of all the public service vehicles on the road, they are the one type which can, quite literally, carry a message to every street in the country.”
David Pitt – Managing Director
With the return of the highly charged ‘Old Firm’ fixture in February 2015 Agripa saw an opportunity to build on the positive work being undertaken in the North Lanarkshire area to tackle sectarianism and provide a clear public focus for an anti-sectarian message. The firm decided to commission a series of adverts to raise awareness of the consequences of sectarian actions.
The company then approached Scotland’s leading anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth and Youth Scotland’s ‘Stand up to Sectarianism’ programme to discuss shaping the campaign. Agripa then meet with North Lanarkshire Council who agreed to use the advertising system on seven of their vehicles through the North Lanarkshire Partnership, which brings together council, police and fire service representatives and voluntary bodies in a community safety framework.
The ads would be displayed on the sides of waste vehicles using Agripa’s unique and highly flexible frame and mounting system. Agripa developed the campaign specifically for bin lorries because, of all the public service vehicles on the road, they are the one type which can, quite literally, carry a message to every street in the country.
Given the vehicle which was to be utilised a catchy and memorable slogan was required and the ‘Bin the Bigotry’ artwork was designed. The Campaign was launched at Strathclyde Regional Park on 20th January 2015 and was attended by council officials, third sector figures, media outlets, police and community representatives.
The launch of the campaign resulted in significant media coverage at both national and local level. The Daily Record newspaper ran a half page piece on the launch as did the main local titles: the Motherwell Times, Bellshill Speaker, Wishaw Press and Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertise . Through Nil by Mouth the campaign was also featured on international news outlet CNN in the week leading up to the game as an example of a positive and imaginative attempt to change behaviour. The campaign was praised on social media by a number of MPs, MSPs and Cllrs as well as members of the House of Lords. It was featured on the STV website, the voluntary sector trade paper ‘The Third Force News.’ The vehicles will be seen by residents right across the North Lanarkshire area as the lorries carry out their duties.
Following on from the highly successful launch, media coverage and vehicle roll out Agripa and NBM were approached by local schools eager to support the campaign. A t-shirt competition was devised for pupils at two North Lanarkshire schools – Mossend and Holy Family Primary Schools. These schools represent both the denominational and non-denominational sectors and brought together pupils from different religious and cultural traditions through a series of joint workshops and events. This culminated in six winning entries (three from each school) being selected each bearing message of tolerance and challenging sectarian attitudes. Pupils used peer learning techniques at assemblies to highlight the aims of the campaign to other children. The simplicity of the message relayed by the advertisement proved effective. Feedback from staff and pupils indicate a heightened awareness of sectarianism amongst participants and new friendships being formed between pupils of different schools. Additionally, several local elected members have requested photo opportunities with the vehicles and the schools to show their support for the campaign and highlight its positive message.
“The partnership was given the opportunity to assist in this campaign and contribute to others. It is a welcome development which we would hope to support in future.”
Cllr Jim Smith – Depute Chair of the NLP Board Director
“This is a very imaginative initiative and we are grateful to North Lanarkshire Council and Agripa for making it happen. These
posters sends out a powerful message and encourage people to consign sectarianism to the dustbin of history. Using bin lorries to relay these messages has been a stroke of genius and we have received many enquiries from other charities asking how they can obtain similar opportunities. We have also picked up strong recognition from members of the public with a notable rise in enquiries to us from the North Lanarkshire area and spin off opportunities such as the t-shirt and workshops in Mossend. It’s been fantastic to be involved in a genuinely successful partnership involving public, private and third sector groups.”
Dave Scott – Nil by Mouth Campaign Director