Visiting WSREC – Jeane Freeman, Minister for Social Security
Over the past week, Scottish Government ministers have been meeting EU citizens across the country.
These meetings have given us the chance to say as clearly and explicitly as we can that Scotland has a social, moral and international responsibility to ensure everyone who has chosen to make Scotland their home, no matter which country they come from, feels safe and welcome here.
And so yesterday I visited West of Scotland Regional Equality Council, and met with people from other European countries, and further afield to listen to their concerns and hear their views.
I heard from staff that they have undergone hate crime training since last Friday, following an increase in instances of hate crime being reported to them since the referendum. And while it saddens me very much that the staff have had the need to undergo further training on this, I’m grateful that we have organisations like WSREC taking steps to help tackle the abhorrent and abusive behaviour of a small number of people who have used the referendum result as ‘permission’ to be aggressive and hateful towards our fellow citizens.
I know people are looking for security – in jobs, in their treatment in the workplace, out on the street, and in their own safety. We are doing all we can to get the message out that EU citizens are welcome, and we will continue to keep pushing this message out to communities and to the media.
It is absolutely vital that communities across Scotland come together to provide people with the reassurance that they are welcome here and that their contribution, talents and experience are valued. Our diversity as a country is what shapes us and fits us well for our future.
We want to talk to communities across Scotland and we know organisations like WSREC can help us to do that. The Scottish Government is determined to tackle hate crime at a grassroots level, which is why, through our Promoting Equality and Cohesion Fund, we support the WSREC and other similar organisations. And we want the positive stories to be told as loudly as possible – we know EU migrants make a positive and valued contribution to our society every single day.
The overwhelming message I took from my visit was that people living here need reassurance and are looking for answers. We know this will be a long process and while we may not know all the answers at the moment, we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure Scotland’s voice – a voice that wants to remain in the EU – is heard.