‘Merton welcomes everyone’. That’s the message from Merton Council ahead of its full council meeting tonight.
The joint message of reassurance comes from all three party leaders after recent international events which have triggered unrest across the world.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “We are witnessing unprecedented events in the news which are causing widespread unrest in our communities and across the world. Merton is the third safest borough in London and we have always acknowledged the huge contribution people from all backgrounds bring to make it such a great place to live, work and learn.”
Councillor Oonagh Moulton, leader of the Merton Conservative Group said: “Recent scenes in the news have been distressing for everyone to watch. We want people to know there is a zero tolerance approach to discrimination in Merton and we celebrate residents from all backgrounds in the area.”
Councillor Peter Southgate, leader of the Merton Independents said: “In these turbulent times, it is important for us to reinforce Merton’s values of openness, accountability, integrity and inclusiveness.”
Over the last 12 months Merton has worked tirelessly with partners including Merton Police to promote community cohesion across the borough.
- 127 different languages are spoken in Merton with every major faith represented
- Merton has already welcomed 20 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from all over the world.
- Merton has also been a refugee meeting point, reuniting 30 refugees with their family members who live outside of the borough.
- A joint initiative between the council and Merton Police as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week saw the council hold a series of events to raise awareness of hate crime and how to report it.
- Following the murder of MP Jo Cox and the murders of 49 LGBT people in an Orlando nightclub, the council flew its flag at half-mast and called for calm in the days and weeks afterwards.
- Following the ‘Brexit’ vote for the UK to leave the European Union, the council supported the Safety Pin campaign to show solidarity against racism, and let any potential victims know the wearer is friendly.
- The police and the council has issued joint guidance for anyone who witnesses or experiences hate crime, to show there is a zero tolerance for hate crime in Merton.
- The council marks Holocaust Memorial Day every year by bringing together members of different communities and faiths to reflect and remember.
- The council’s Faith and Belief Forum holds regular community cohesion events such as a recent quiz as part of Interfaith Week.