The EU migrants and the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014

The debate about the Scottish referendum is open to all society and has been discussed in different media and organisations. However there is a lack of information in discussions based on the referendum for EU migrants and Roma communities.

Juliana Penha and Jasmeet Nat

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Three organisations that work with Roma Communities in Govanhill; Crossroads Youth and Commnity Association, Roma Youth Project and Friends of Romano Lav, decided to take an action to bring awareness about EU migrants and The Scottish Referendum.

“We believe that everybody has the right to vote” explained Eva Kourova, Project Co-ordinator of Roma Youth Project about the main objectives behind this action. “We believe that Roma communities do not have enough information regarding the referendum. Therefore we want to know if they have enough knowledge about the referendum and are they planning to vote. Whether they vote or not is a personal decision but they do need to know they have a choice”, conclude Eva.

Crossroads Youth and Commnity Association has been conducting Streetwork in Govanhill, of which main focus is to engage with wider Slovak and Czech Roma community, for over a year now. “Especially in past few months we have come across increasing number of people enquiring about the referendum, especially in relation to their future in Scotland – from the EU migrants’ perspective. Majority of people we spoke to were not aware that they could participate in the referendum and have their say on the future of Scotland.” explained Katarina Zborovianova, Community Project Worker from Crossroads Youth and Commnity Association.

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A recent survey was organised by Roma Youth Project, Friends of Romano Lav and Crossroads Youth and Commnity Association. The Survey included 80 peoples opinion (40 Romanian and 40 Slovakian), the results showed that Roma communities lacked knowledge or were not well informed about the referendum, even though this is important for everyone living in Scotland.

“The discussion about the referendum unfortunately didn’t target the migrant’s population including the Roma people. Roma people are one of the most excluded communities in Glasgow and everywhere else in Europe. Of course they have heard about the referendum from the media, which has created a little panic in the community. There wasn’t any awareness raising activities done, about the referendum among the Roma migrants from Slovakia, Czech Republic or Romania. It is their right to get enough information about the referendum and also to vote as they are residents of the UK.” Said Marcela Adamova, Project Manager of Friends of Romano Lav

During these three days (19,20 and 21th August), 5 Seasonal Workers from Roma Youth Project and Friends of Romano Lav interviewed people on Govanhill Streets. The results of the survey show that despite the fact that most of them had heard about the referendum, majority still lacked the information regarding on how to register to vote. The survey also revealed that majority of them, feel that they have less information about the both sides of the campaign, Yes and No.

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On the question “Where did you hear about it?” 55.25% of the people from both sides give a blank answer. The other forms of where Slovakian and Romanian people found information regarding the referendum were through TV, Internet, leaflets and from word of mouth.

In order to fight against the exclusion of EU migrants, especially in the Roma communities regarding the Scottish Referendum a few actions are already occurring especially in Govanhill; Govanhill being the area where the preponderance of immigrants are from Slovakian and Romanian communities.

Despite the fact that these events main objectives are focused on informing the Roma community about the referendum, but also this information is also open to all EU migrants in Scotland.

An information sheet was designed for the EU migrants to reinforce this action. The information sheet explains what the referendum is, who can vote, what happens on the day of the referendum and what are “Yes” and “Better together” campaigns. There is also information about what happens after 18th September regarding the benefits, immigration and EU membership.

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Public meeting

As a part of this initiative, two public meeting will be held at Govanhill Baths (99, Calder Street): Wednesday, 27th august, 4pm – 6pm dedicate for Slovakian people and on Thursday 28th August 4pm-6pm, will be dedicate for Romanian people to get more information regarding the referendum and get help to registration to vote.

For more information contact:

Katarina Zborovianova, CROSSROADS Youth and Commnity Association on 01414238093

Eva Kourova, Roma Youth Project on 01413376626

Marcela Adamova, Friends of Romano Lav on 01412858882

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