Compassion of children gives us hope for the future

One of the most concerning developments since the EU referendum has been the number of reports of racial abuse.

More than 100 incidents have been recorded across the country, but nobody knows how many other people may have suffered hate crimes in silence.

From insults to assaults and the daubing of disgusting graffiti, it feels almost as if those responsible regard the vote to leave as some sort of legitimacy for their nasty xenophobia.

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Of course, it is nothing of the sort. But perhaps they are now more emboldened to express their reprehensible views.

Anybody who has watched the video of a man being racially abused on a tram in Manchester should be concerned about what is happening.

Here in Portsmouth, we reported how vandals had spray-painted ‘UKIP’ and ‘DIRTY POLISH’ near to the war memorial in Guildhall Square.

The fear is that all these incidents will increase tension, which is probably exactly what the perpetrators want.

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So it is heartening to hear how schoolchildren in the city are supporting refugees by welcoming a handmade cross made from the driftwood of capsized boats used to try to escape.

The crosses, carved by an Italian carpenter, are being shared with our Catholic communities by the charity Cafod.

Youngsters at St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Paulsgrove expressed their hopes that everyone will live in harmony and prayed that all refugees on long journeys will have a safe passage and a true welcome at the end.

Their tolerance, friendship and understanding are a lesson to all – and a powerful reminder that, amid concern over division, our younger generation should give us cause for optimism for the future.