“Everyone coming together, at the same time, on the same date, no matter their background or country of origin, and sharing their photos on social media under #MoreTeaLessHate, will send a strong message of hope and unity, and show everyone that lives in the UK that they are wanted and, above all, welcome here.”
Facebook group Worrying Signs, an online community of thousands founded to support victims of post-Brexit hate crime, recently launched the nationwide #MoreTeaLessHate event, where people gathered to drink tea and celebrate their diversity as a community.
#MoreTeaLessHate took place in a number of cities across the United Kingdom, including Kent, Hartlepool, Newcastle, Bristol, Bognor Regis, North Tyneside, Manchester, Sheffield and Dorset. However, it also reached other European Union countries, as this image from a Twitter user in Germany shows.
— (((M J Grant))) (@campaignbear) August 28, 2016
KSIMC mosque in Birmingham hosted one of the biggest parties, open to all “irrespective of cultures, ethnicities, religious background, gender or political affiliation”. Project Manager Sabir Kamal said the event was set-up in a “relaxed environment” where guests could grab a “cuppa” and some food and sit round in a circle to socialise.
“[We want to] send a clear message across the UK that we, as Muslims, are open to all faiths and non-faiths,” Sabir told the IPF. “We hope that we are able to unite all people under the banner of humanity and fight negativity and hostility and celebrate our diversity.”
One of the participants, spiritual advisor Shaykh Muhammad Amin Evans, was “overjoyed” with the event’s organisation and turnout. He described how people across all faiths had come to the event, including Christians, Hindus and Sikhs.
“Events like this reveal a happy reality within faith, religious and cultural relationships that is too often ignored in the desire to find faults. It was a confirmation of just how successful multi-culturalism has been.”
— Raj AC (@rajaccomedy) August 28, 2016
Sylvia Andrews, Learning and Activities Officer at Blandford Museum Garden, organised a #MoreTeaLessHate event in Dorset. She said that she took the move after realising that many in her community felt “worried about the rise in aggression and blame against the very people who are not at fault”.
“I personally am a strong believer in the importance of community,” Sylvia said. “Along with like-minded friends, we have decided to reinforce a ‘working together’ philosophy.”
Sylvia hoped her event would lead to a “a better sense of community”, where people were able to recognise each other on the streets and say “hi”. Her event was attended by around 30 people from different countries, mainly India, Italy and the United States.
“We hope to let people from anywhere in the world, who are living in Blandford, know they are welcomed by the community. We hope that people will start to recognise and appreciate each other.”
Participants Suzi and Mike Hearn, who run Blandfold CARES, a charity collecting aid for refugees, said it was “lovely” to meet so many different people and “counter misconceptions about the refugee crisis, about how people are treated when they get here, and about funding”.
Through the #MoreTeaLessHate event, Suzi and Mike were able to raise over £100, half of which will go to Calais kitchens, while the other half to Blandfold’s food bank.
“We have new supporters and new offers of help,” they said after the event.
— Lauren Colgan (@DrLaurenColgan) August 28, 2016
Yasmin Weaver, one of the founders of Worrying Signs along with Sarah Childs and Natasha Blank, explained their reason for choosing tea as an event theme, something that is uniquely British.
“We want to reclaim Britain from those that would spread fear, resentment and hate, and spread some positivity instead.”
She continued: “We think everyone coming together, at the same time, on the same date, no matter their background or country of origin, and sharing their photos on social media under #MoreTeaLessHate, will send out a strong message of hope and unity, and show everyone that lives in the UK that they are wanted and, above all, welcome here.”
Having witnessed and being “disturbed” by a spate of hate crimes following the EU referendum result, Yasmin has one mission:
“We just hope that this campaign goes even a tiny way to reassure those people that have experienced post-Brexit racism and xenophobia.”