THE partner of a woman mocked by teenagers is calling for more to be done to tackle hate crimes.

Sophie Fickling, 20, was born with cranial bifida, a rare birth defect.

She experienced much bullying growing up and unfortunately this has continued into her adult life.

Most recently, while at McDonalds in Northwich town centre, Sophie was left in tears due to how others treated her.

Her partner, Christopher Holden, said: “We were ordering food when a group of female youngsters started staring, pointing and sniggering at my partner’s rare condition.

“This greatly upset her and it ended up with her in tears.

“I was upset and angered by this, how can people make someone feel so vulnerable and frightened?

“To reduce a young lady to tears is unforgiveable.”

Christopher alerted a manager who apologised and asked the youths to leave the premises.

Northwich Guardian: The incident happened at the McDonalds in Northwich town centreThe incident happened at the McDonalds in Northwich town centre (Image: Google Maps)

When pregnant with twins, Sophie’s mother was told that one of her babies was developing a disfigurement and wouldn’t survive birth.

Sophie defied the odds and was born much stronger than doctor’s had anticipated.

However, she says her “real battle” began when she started primary school.

“I started getting bullied for my disfigurement,” she told Changing Faces, a charity which provides support to people with visible differences.

“This included people mimicking me and making nasty comments. The name-calling in particular shrank my confidence and made me feel isolated.  

“Secondary school and college weren’t much easier. There was a lot of stigmatised bullying, centered on my visible difference.

“One person kept sniggering and saying that I looked like a Harry Potter character.”

Sophie added: “I’ve had some negative experiences to tackle in my life, but it’s made me much stronger as a person.

“Charities like Changing Faces are so important. They provide vital support services like counselling to people with a visible difference. They also campaign to get more positive representation – particularly in the film industry and through corporate partnerships, educating brands to be more inclusive.”

Sophie's partner is now urging others to support the work of Changing Faces.

Christopher added: “Changing Faces has been an important lifeline for Sophie and has empowered her to progress with her campaign of rising awareness of cranial bifida. 

“In an ideal world I would like to see hate crime laws more heavily enforced to protect vulnerable souls, both with visible and hidden conditions.”