When campaigning group Cornwall for Europe saw that a Romanian couple who run a taxi service in Helston had been targeted by hate crime in the days leading up to Brexit on 31 January, they decided to do something about it.
The group started a crowdfunder to raise money to pay for the damage caused when the taxi belonging to Dragos and Mirabela Robatzchi had its tyres repeatedly slashed by vandals, who also left dog mess in the parking space of the Romanian family.
The response was extraordinary, and the group had met their initial target within 24 hours. With contributions still coming in, Cornwall for Europe say they will be using any additional funds raised to help other people from EU and other countries who have been similarly targeted by xenophobic hate crime in Cornwall.
“Whatever they feel about Brexit, we know most people in Cornwall want everyone to feel welcome here, and we felt that this was a practical way for people to show their solidarity and support for Dragos and Mirabela,” said Emmanuelle Brook, Chair of Cornwall for Europe.
“Many people from EU countries are feeling very anxious about their future in the UK right now, despite having spent years of their lives here and contributing in all sorts of ways to their local communities – as neighbours, co-workers and friends. We want to show them that they are valued and supported.
“We know that it’s only a tiny minority of people who commit such hate crimes, perhaps encouraged by some of the shameful anti-European rhetoric from some politicians and elements of the media that we’ve seen in the last few years. But unfortunately, we also know that what Dragos and Mirabela have experienced is not an isolated case, and that others have also been targeted in this way.
“We’re hugely encouraged by all the messages of support and solidarity that people have been leaving on our crowdfunder page. Cornwall has a long and proud tradition of welcoming people from all over the world, and nobody living here should be subjected to this sort of harassment and intimidation.”
Along with a cheque to cover the cost of the damage caused to Dragos and Mirabela, Cornwall for Europe also presented them today with a bunch of yellow roses as a symbol of friendship and solidarity.
The Yellow Rose initiative was started by Cornwall for Europe member Jane Stevenson in 2018, and has caught on nationally. Jane said: “It’s a way of encouraging people to send messages of friendship to EU citizens in the UK and British people living in Europe – millions of whom have had their lives turned upside down by Brexit. It’s a simple way of showing that you care, and it’s led to thousands of people sending heartfelt messages with this symbol online as well as giving actual roses to friends, neighbours, colleagues and even complete strangers.”
Welcoming the support given by Cornwall for Europe, Dragos and Mirabela said they were deeply touched and that they looked forward to working with the group to strengthen ties of international friendship and understanding in Cornwall.
The crowdfunder, which has already raised around £1000, will be open for another week and is at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/support-dragos-and-mirabela.