Academics have called for more to be done to support young people from Central and Eastern Europe living in the UK.
A survey led by the University of Strathclyde, of more than 1000 young people from Central and Eastern Europe living in the UK, found that 77% had experienced discrimination in some form owing to their nationality, accent or appearance. However, a similar number – 75.2% - believed they were likely or very likely to stay in the UK after Brexit, with only 11% expecting to leave.
Racism was a frequent experience for one in five of the young people and nearly half believed they had witnessed it more often since the 2016 EU referendum. Just over half felt ‘worried’ or ‘uncertain’ about their future following the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, while 15.8% were ‘hopeful’ and 5.9% ‘excited’.
The study, also involving researchers from Plymouth and Durham Universities, was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It will be presented during an event on Saturday 11 November at the Strathclyde-based Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII), as part of ESRC’s UK-wide Festival of Social Science.
Dr Daniela Sime, of Strathclyde’s School of Social Work & Social Policy, led the study, entitled Here To Stay? She said: “A rise in racism indicated in our research is a serious concern and is likely to have an impact on young people’s mental health, their sense of security and belonging, and their decisions on whether to stay in Britain in the future.
“These young people are hoping not to leave the UK, at least not in the short term, as many now think of the UK as their home and are in education or training. Nonetheless, they are sensitive to, and potentially alienated by, anti-immigration discourse and sentiment and this may affect their long-term plans.
“It is particularly important to them that their secure status as UK residents is confirmed at an early stage of the negotiations.”
The Festival of Social Science event, Supporting Young People from Eastern Europe During Brexit, will be held at SUII from 11:30-16:00 on Saturday 11 November. See details of the event.