Third sector EU workers get backing in face of Brexit

Eu valued crop

Scottish Government minister Alasdair Allan at the launch of the EU are Valued campaign.

The Scottish Government has pledged to support third sector staff who fear for their futures after Brexit

25th April 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The Scottish Government has pledged to support third sector workers from the European Union in the face of Brexit.

Minister for international development and Europe Alasdair Allan has said that there will be unequivocal support for European nationals who fear for their futures after Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

He was at Camphill Tiphereth in Edinburgh to hear about the EU are Valued campaign, which has been created by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and backed by Camphill Scotland.

The campaign aims to encourage EU nationals to stay and continue to live and work in the Scottish third sector despite ongoing uncertainty around Brexit.

The minister took a tour of the facility and met with staff, volunteers and service users during his visit, to discuss the effect Brexit could have on the third sector and hear their concerns firsthand.

Allan said: “The role that EU workers play in Scotland is not only of huge benefit to our country, both culturally and economically, it is vital to delivering high-quality public services to the people of Scotland.

“Camphill Scotland is just one of many organisations I have met with that have been clear that the ability to recruit from an EU-wide pool is essential. The simplest solution is for the UK to remain within the European Single Market and Customs Union, enabling people to work and travel freely across Europe.”

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. 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.

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."

John Downie, director of public affairs at SCVO, highlighted that 3% of third sector workers are EU nationals.

He said: “Scotland’s economy, public services and third sector are strengthened thanks to the contribution of these people, and we believe it is crucial that they are supported to continue doing the great work they do, particularly within the third sector.

“We want to raise awareness of this contribution and encourage those in power – and third sector organisations – to take the action required to offer at least some certainty and support to colleagues from other EU nations.”

The campaign has seen a toolkit of helpful information and resources created for EU nationals working in the third sector.