Last Thursday’s referendum vote marked an historic day, in terms of the UK’s political landscape – it was always going to, whatever the outcome.
However, I am now certain that, with the dust still far from settling, no one really anticipated what this particular outcome really meant for the UK, in terms of repercussions and ramifications upon society as a whole.
As the weekend has shown us, the turmoil is far-reaching, with claims, counter-claims, u-turns and a general feeling that, at present we are somewhat rudderless and those that need to be our inspirational rocks are left floundering.
Sadly but, perhaps, not surprisingly, the UK’s immigration issue was probably at the forefront of many voter’s minds, given the type of campaigns run by the two main groups involved in the weeks and months leading up to the vote. To an extent, this was probably inevitable, given that immigration is such a sensitive, emotive and divisive issue in current times.
However, since last week’s vote, we have seen some alarming stories, across social media and in the press, where some people who are perceived to be non-British, are being verbally abused and, in certain cases being shouted at in the street that it was time for them to ‘pack up and go home’ or some having leaflets pushed through their letterboxes echoing similar sentiments.
Even more alarming is that such abuse and hostility is also being directed towards schoolchildren in the classroom and playground – a place they should feel absolutely safe.
Obviously, this is wholly unacceptable and perpetrators should be brought to justice.
Stop Hate UK has also spent time, since the vote was known, talking to people who are representative of the people in question and it’s very sad to hear them talk about no longer feeling safe in the UK and feeling isolated, vulnerable and genuinely scared to be here.
The vote on Thursday should not be seen and used, as a vehicle to engender Hate. This country, helped by many agencies and charities, such as Stop Hate UK, has worked tirelessly, to try to stamp out Hate Crime, in all its many and complex forms and we feel very strongly that, somehow, certain segments of the public now feel that the Brexit vote means that wholly inappropriate views and offensive language can now be used freely and without consequence and provides an excuse for xenophobic attacks.
The reported events of the weekend are, of course, extremely worrying and we must act quickly to ensure that the message to anyone affected by this is one of reassurance, empathy and determination to allay any fears they might currently have.
Therefore, Stop Hate UK echoes the many calls, from the likes of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other leading politicians and councillors, not to tolerate such incidences of Hate Crime and to report them immediately to the police, via the Stop Hate UK helpline 0800 138 1625 or other local Hate Crime service.
Chief Executive – Stop Hate UK