An Italian charity worker has told how she has been called a ‘f****** immigrant’ and is scared to take phone calls from her family on public transport in Doncaster since the town voted overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit.
Giulia Savini says she has been subjected to racism and abuse in Doncaster since the town voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.
And she says she’s often afraid of taking phone calls from her parents in public in case her accent draws attention to her in public.
Giulia, who moved to live and work in the UK seven years ago said: “If my phone rings when I am on a bus and I see it is my mum or dad, I don’t answer it because I’m scared of what people will say or do if they hear my accent.
“It never used to bother me but now I’m really aware of speaking in my own language when I’m in a public place. I have to go to somewhere I feel safe before I can take a phone call now.”
Giulia, who lives in Town Moor, speaks fluent English but that her Italian accent often makes her a target for abuse.
A former Labour Party campaigner and political student, the 29-year-old, says that she has been subjected to racism – and while campaigning on Doncaster doorsteps during elections was called ‘a f****** immigrant.”
“This guy heard my voice and I just heard him say ‘another f****** immigrant.’ There’s been a really hostile environment in Doncaster since the vote for Brexit.”
Doncaster voted by 69% to 31% to leave the EU – the highest vote to Leave in Yorkshire.
She says she was saddened by the result and that almost instantly, attitudes towards her have changed.
“Before Brexit, people used to come up to me and wanted to know where I was from, about my background. They were interested in talking to me and wanting to know about me.
“Now they hear my voice and class me as another immigrant, a foreigner. They don’t care that I’m here working, paying my taxes and contributing to the community – I’m just seen as an immigrant taking everything I can out of the UK.
“I love Britain – I love everything about it – its culture, music, literature, people, the lot. But things have definitely changed over the last few years.”
“You look at people and you’re wary.”
Giulia is now a member of the Best For Doncaster group, a pressure group calling for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal as Britain edges closer to leaving the EU on March 29 – and she says abuse is common on the campaign trail.
“Racist comments are quite common, unfortunately.
“And people talk about immigrants and immigration and it makes you feel guilty and not welcome.”
She says she intends to stay in the UK after Brexit – but has no idea what the future holds.
“We are in such unstable times with so much uncertainty,” she added. “No one knows what Brexit really means but I think people are starting to realise that it isn’t going to be a good thing for the UK.
“Even in such a Leave voting town like Doncaster, lots of people are starting to realise that there’s a lot more to Brexit than they thought and lots of people want a People’s Vote.
“There are many Leave voters who want to have a final say on the UK’s terms of leaving.”
Added Giulia: “I’m passionate about the UK and everything about it. I’m going to stay here and continue fighting.”