The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is calling for third sector organisations across the country to put supports in place to encourage EU nationals on their staff to remain in Scotland.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 117,000 EU nationals left the UK in 2016 – the year of the referendum – a 36% increase on 2015. Despite not legally being required to leave Scotland, many EU nationals no longer feel welcome or confident enough to stay in Scotland long term.
This is partly due to the outcome of the referendum, the rhetoric used throughout the campaign and the media coverage of it. Worryingly, between May and September 2017 Crimestoppers experienced an 88% increase in all hate crime contacts and a 40% increase on contacts regarding racism, compared to the previous five month period.
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs at SCVO, said: “Scotland’s economy, public services and third sector are strengthened thanks to the contribution made by our valued EU colleagues, and we believe it is crucial that they are supported to continue doing the great work they do, particularly within the third sector. We wish to encourage third sector organisations to make the effort and take the action required to offer at least some certainty and support to friends and colleagues who have come from other EU nations.
“SCVO are currently speaking to a number of large third sector employers to identify how many EU citizens they employ, and the impact Brexit might have on their workforce and their ability to deliver services. We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting European colleagues in the public sector – particularly the First Minister’s recent offer to contribute funding to the cost of residency applications – and we are looking into options for similar support for the third sector.”
James Cant, Director at British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland, said: “This is an important piece of work and it’s great to see the SCVO taking the initiative to help the third sector to be in a position to support EU nationals on their staff. The third sector is a vibrant community that reaches in to all areas of Scottish society and it’s only right that those who work to make Scotland a better place for all be provided with appropriate support and advice in these uncertain times.
“The BHF’s life saving research programme in Scotland, and across the UK, is no exception. We’d like to see further commitments about the status of EU scientists in Scotland, and the UK, which could influence our ability to attract and retain the people needed to carry out world-class research. Scientific research flourishes in an environment of confidence, stability and collaboration. Scientists in Scotland, and the UK, are making long-term decisions about the future of their research right now. Those decisions will shape Scotland, and the UK’s, position as a global research leader, so it’s essential that scientists are given the reassurance they need at this time.”
Dr Neil Henery, Director of Camphill Scotland, said: “We are deeply concerned about the potential impact of Brexit upon Camphill communities in Scotland. Camphill was founded in Aberdeen by Austrian refugees and remains a profoundly European movement. Our recent survey showed that no less than 40% of our total workforce are from other parts of the EU.
“Any future restrictions upon the future freedom of movement of EU nationals, and upon their current rights to live and work in the UK could have devastating consequences for all members of our communities. We believe it is vital that the UK Government secures agreement on the rights of EU nationals to live and work in the UK and, just as urgently, reassures EU nationals currently residing and working in the UK that their immigration status will be protected.”
A ‘toolkit’ of helpful information and resources is available on the SCVO website so that all of its’ 1,800 member organisations – as well as any other charities, social enterprises or voluntary organisations across the country – can have the support required to show their EU colleagues they are valued and to support them over the coming months. Employers can also show their support on Twitter and join the conversation using #EUareValued .