A report by the Home Office published last week confirmed that hate crimes in England and Wales have dramatically increased after the EU referendum. More than 5,000 such offences were recorded in July, up 41% compared to July last year. European Embassies, in particular, have reported an unusually high number of abuses, according to a survey by the Guardian. The incidence has been declining since summer, although it is still higher than in 2015. But it is not just gloom. Many initiatives were launched in recent weeks against xenophobia and in support of Europeans. Some are by organised groups, but many are spontaneous and reflect the feelings of people for their communities. Here are some.
Not foreign. An open letter against discrimination signed by thousands of academics, writers, musicians and many other professionals. The letter was written by Peter Geoghegan, an Irish journalist and writer based in Glasgow, and Christopher Silver, also a writer. “The spark was the anti-foreigner rhetoric from the Conservative party conference. We felt we needed to say something, but we could never have imagined so many people would have signed. We have over 10,000 signatures and rising all the time,” says Geoghegan. The initiative supports “the claim of citizens from EU countries to continue to enjoy full citizenship rights in the UK, even though the country has now voted to leave the European Union.”
“Foreign nationals make an enormous contribution to this country’s culture, economy, and society. They have long helped to shape its common heritage and identity. They are not a separate caste in our society – they are our friends, partners, colleagues, and neighbours. A country robbed of these people is a poorer country in every sense: they are a part of who we are. We therefore call upon the UK government to put a stop to this rhetoric and explicitly rule out any policies which are premised on dividing workplaces and communities based on where people were born.”
Love letter to Europe. A campaign encouraging people to write letters to Europe, it guarantees they will be delivered. The intent: “Regardless of whether you voted to Brexit or Remain, we are all united in our desire to share a positive future with our European friends. Whatever happens over the next few months and years, we believe it is important to begin this new journey with a positive spirit by sharing some love with our continental neighbours.” The initiative is endorsed by the pro-Remain group 48 and beyond. “We are pleased to endorse it because at a time when there are so many nasty things being said in some of the tabloids, we think a bit of love is very much in order,” said group founder Eoin Ward.
#LoveOurEUStaff. NHS Employers, the organisation representing employers in the health care system, encourages local initiatives to provide support and assurance to EU staff after the uncertainty created by the result of the EU referendum.
On a political level, the petition #WritetoRemain calls on Theresa May and all Prime Ministers and EU leaders meeting at the European Council of 20-21 October to guarantee the status of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in other EU countries. The letter is promoted by Open Britain, born from the Remain campaign, and Common Ground, a new initiative for a fair and open society. In Scotland, some EU nationals have received letters from their councillors or Members of the Scottish Parliament with the reassurance that they remain welcome in the country.
Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.