In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.
Dear members, supporters and friends,
A lot has been said before and after the vote on the EU membership. The vote is to leave, but we have not left yet. Many of us are feeling anxious and confused about what will happen next.
The British government has not yet formally started the process of negotiations to leave the EU. This process is likely to last two years. This means that all EU citizens can continue living their lives with same rights and legal protections as they did so far and continue to work, claim benefits, study and visit as usual.
It is hard to predict the long term impact that the vote will have on our currency, the economy, and jobs but these will be decisions that business will be making on the basis of economic issues and not on the basis of any changes in entitlements and/or legal protections.
The campaign has left many of our members with a feeling that they are not welcome. Reports of hate speech and racists incidents have been on the increase. There are already several social media sites that collate incidents around the country. It is important that all members of our communities feel safe. Hate speech and racism is unacceptable and illegal. If you experience it please record it - what happened, where and when - and report it to the police. If you are EU citizen and if you experience any kind of discrimination, you should seek legal advice and contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau and/or seek advice from your trade union.
Some political leaders have already shared messages of welcome and reassurance for EU citizens living in the UK. We will be seeking leadership on a local, regional and national level in all spheres of life: in our local councils and regional and national parliaments, in our schools, faith institutions, work places and civil society, to take responsibility and be proactive in ensuring that tolerance and inclusion are maintained in every pore of our society.
We encourage our members to join in action of welcome and tolerance and have their voices heard in a safe and democratic manner. If you wish to organise, share your experience, speak out, join in actions of solidarity and welcome and connect with other communities, we are here to help. Please contact Jessica Kennedy and she will support you to organise.