Brent councillor vows to ‘embrace all Europeans’ after report suggests rise of xenophobia within British schools following Brexit vote
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A senior Brent councillor said the council will “continue to embrace” everyone in the borough after a nationwide report highlighted the scale of xenophobia at schools following the EU referendum.
The study, led by the University of Strathclyde, surveyed more than 1,200 people aged 12 to 18 who had moved to the UK as young children.
Most of those interviewed were from Poland, Lithuania or Romania.
It found that three-quarters had experienced some form of racism or xenophobia following the Brexit vote in June 2016, while 27 per cent of respondents felt "scared" about what the future holds.
Cllr Tom Miller, responsible for community safety and engagement at Brent Council, suggested this is not a situation he wants to see in north-west London.
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He said: "We have a proud history of welcoming people from all over the world to Brent.
"Earlier this year we set out our Stronger Communities Strategy, committing to increasing support for new and emerging groups, including Eastern Europeans, in the borough.
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"Regardless of Brexit, we continue to embrace all Europeans that have made Brent their home as our friends and neighbours."
Some of those who took part in the study told researchers they had been verbally and physically abused for speaking their own language in public places.
One participant said: "At my last school, someone made xenophobic comments about my nationality and tried to burn my hair.
"Last year, in my current school, a group followed me around chanting 'UKIP' and that I should f**k off back to my country."
Brent is home to 67,000 EU nationals - the highest of any London borough - and neighbouring Harrow is thought to have the largest Romanian population in Britain.
In March, Harrow Council held a Q&A session for Romanians living in the borough to reassure them about the impact of the UK leaving the EU.
Cllr Graham Henson, that council's leader, said one of the council's roles is to "engage with as many residents as possible" and said he was "proud to have built such a close relationship with the borough's Romanian community".
Since the EU referendum, police have recorded 1,962 racist and religious hate crimes in Brent and 988 in Harrow.