Britons combat post-Brexit racism by wearing safety pins

#SafetyPin campaign started after reported rise in hate crimes since referendum

The idea behind the ‘Pin of Safety’is that it “marks its wearer as a safe person,” so anyone feeling nervous can sit next to the wearer on public transport or talk to them. Photograph: Getty Images

The idea behind the ‘Pin of Safety’is that it “marks its wearer as a safe person,” so anyone feeling nervous can sit next to the wearer on public transport or talk to them. Photograph: Getty Images

 

People are wearing safety pins to show their support for anyone experiencing racism following the UK’s decision to leave the EU thanks to a social media campaign.

Allison, a 30-year-old from south-west London, was inspired to start the #SafetyPin campaign because of the reported rise in the number of hate crimes reported to the police since the referendum.

The freelance writer, who was not able to vote because she is American, said she was inspired by the #ridewithme campaign started in Australia after the Sydney cafe siege in December 2014 where people said they would sit with Muslims on public transport.

She said: “I wanted to start something similar — an easy way for people who were at risk of being targeted to quickly and quietly identify who their allies were.

“I tweeted the original thread out and just started bugging people to retweet it. I asked nearly everyone I know personally, plus sent it out to a few big names. At some point it just took on a life of its own.”

The idea behind the ‘Pin of Safety’is that it “marks its wearer as a safe person,” so anyone feeling nervous can sit next to the wearer on public transport or talk to them.

Allison added: “I see the safety pin as a pledge that the wearer will not just stand by if they see acts of racism going on — they will intervene and report, to the best of their abilities.”

The hashtag #SafetyPin was trending on Facebook by Tuesday night and on Twitter on Wednesday after she launched the campaign on Sunday.

It has received the support of several famous faces including Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, comedians Noel Fielding and Lenny Henry, singer Charlotte Church and Blur’s Graham Coxon.

The campaign was also shown support on Twitter by South Thanet Labour, the seat Ukip leader and Brexit frontman Nigel Farage went for in the last general election.

Not everyone is in favour of the movement however, with Piers Morgan tweeting; I’m not wearing a #safetypin to prove that I’m not a halfwit.

Allison said: “I never expected it would reach this many people. It’s really restored my faith in the population of the UK. You always hear about the horrible things on the news — the massive subset of the population who is lovely and kind don’t get reported on.

“Anyone can wear the pin. How you voted in the referendum doesn’t matter. There are thousands of good people on both sides of this debate who don’t want to see immigrants, EU citizens, or black and minority ethnic British citizens abused and harassed.”

PA