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Richard Jackson, Chief Officer of VAL, calls upon third sector organisations in Leeds to redouble their efforts to underpin community cohesion following Brexit.
Since Brexit, the National Police Chiefs’ Council have announced more than a 50% rise in hate crime reports between last Thursday and Sunday compared with a month ago. Where these instances have been shared (e.g. on social media) there has been overwhelming support for the victim from people within the local community and beyond. Following this example, it is clear that silence is not an option; but I also understand how challenging speaking out can be - the current ‘safety pin’ campaign on social media (just search Safety Pin on twitter) is a great example of how people can show solidarity with all citizens without feeling they should be directly challenging others.
However, there are also some who see an ‘out vote’ as confirmation of racism, this is simply not true and should also be challenged where it is heard. The out vote is also not the cause of hate crime, rather a symptom of deeper tensions which are unresolved, with some parts of society lashing out at visible and vulnerable targets, and many communities across a broad spectrum feeling that they are being left behind, whilst others feel justifiably threatened by overt racism. What the out vote has done is bring those tensions to the forefront.
I’ve read a lot since Brexit and would like to share some of what others have said as I feel they sum up what’s needed better than I can.
NCVO, who aim to champion voluntary action, have produced a useful summary of what Brexit means for the voluntary sector. Included in this report is the following:
As a sector with roots in local communities and communities of interest, we must play our part in bringing people together to discuss their hopes and concerns for the future.
Sir Stuart Etherington (Chief Executive of NCVO) said in a recent blog:
You (the Third Sector) should consider what more you can do to bring communities together, whether working with other voluntary organisations or with other civic institutions. Outreach and inclusivity in our practices matters now more than ever. There is an urgent need to work to restore trust in society. Between the public and institutions, even between members of the public. Every little counts. Every negative encounter, every disappointing news story, does its bit to chip away at the finite reserves of trust that people hold. Every positive encounter, everything that serves to reinforce faith, can rebuild those reserves.
Similarly the Leader of Leeds City Council has produced a statement which includes:
Whatever happens we must continue to work together to make sure in to the future that young people continue to have the opportunities they need to thrive and prosper.
Leeds strives to be a cosmopolitan city with vibrant and inclusive communities; this ambition is being threatened. We at Voluntary Action Leeds call upon the local Third Sector to consider the wise words (of others) I’ve shared above and redouble your efforts in bringing people together in solidarity to discuss their hopes and concerns for the future. Ways of doing this are varied and there is no right answer but if there are any ways in which you feel we can help with this then please let us know.
Chief Officer, Voluntary Action Leeds