Community relations and the increase in racist incidents following EU Referendum

Written by creo

Here in Tai Pawb we believe strongly that our members in Wales are leading the way in their commitment to equality, diversity and social justice. Social housing organisations have a long history of welcoming people, supporting and celebrating the diversity of their tenants.

Unfortunately the tone of the EU referendum debate has led to many migrant and ethnic minority communities feeling unsettled and to an increase in incidents of racist abuse. In the past few months I have really appreciated the overwhelming and undeniable messages of welcome and support from colleagues, friends, family and neighbours and I am sure the communities you work with will have appreciated the same.

We know that majority of hate incidents in Wales happen near people’s homes and that most of them (ca.70 per cent) go unreported. I am certain that during this difficult time, you will do everything in your power to re-assure tenants and communities from ethnic minority and migrant communities that they are welcome and they will be supported should they experience any racist abuse, harassment or intimidation. This is equally important in areas of high and low diversity where communities may be feeling more isolated

I am proud to have seen statements to that effect from our members: Taff Housing Association, Cadwyn Housing Association, CCHA, Cynon Taf Community Housing Group and many more.  It is my view that these racist incidents are perpetrated by a small minority of people who believe that voting results justify their behaviour but we all, staff and tenants, have a role in challenging it.

Considering the context of EU referendum results and the importance of engaging with all communities across race, nationality, age and social class divides, I think it is also vital to give some thought to the role of social landlords and partners in bridging those divisions over the longer term in order to improve community relations. As the first minister rightly pointed out, “we need to find a way of talking to one another again – we may have voted different ways, but we remain neighbours, friends and family”.

In August, we held a seminar on Migrants, Refugees and Community Relations, to discuss this important topic with members, share best practice and consider next steps.

Should you need further support in relation to dealing with hate incidents, you might want to make use of Tai Pawb and Welsh Government’s hate crime toolkit which provides good practice and checklists for reviewing your practices and policies. We also have our hate crime training course available, which you may want to make use of.

Let us all recognise the strength that comes from our diversity and the role it plays in making Wales a great place to live.

Alicja Zalesinska