solace_aderyn: (Seeking Solace)
[personal profile] solace_aderyn
Daily Mail/Daily Express readers, look away now.

Email from the local Sergeant: it began, "This is an ongoing problem that [Council] is taking very seriously." I have to say, I laughed when I read that :-(

It turns out that the large majority of the rough sleepers are not UK born or have British citizenship, and are in fact Eastern European. The police are aware, as are the UK Border Agency, and have been visiting over the last few weeks to serve paperwork informing them of appointments for deportation as they've breached immigration rules. "I have little doubt that most will fail to attend appointments and as such will be circulated as being liable for arrest... We will continue to come down and move people on but we are more than aware that they return later in the day. Please call us on our team mobile [with number here] and we will come straight down."

So, my boss' suspicions were right. Looks like they've deliberately moved here, on the basis that even begging will get them more cash than a job would in their native countries. Over the next few weeks they're going to be arrested and sent back.

I would think of her as a bit of a right winger, were it not for that she's from Eastern Europe herself.

It certainly doesn't paint a good picture for the large majority of immigrants here. It's furthered by a story from someone in my family, who works with am Eastern European man; he's been awarded a 4 bedroom house by the local council, in which his family lives... for 3 months a year. Rest of the time, they're in their home country. He also works 12 hours a week, so eligible for benefits. And it's all legal. My sister is now facing raising a very large family in a 3 room bungalow - no, not three bedroom, three room - which is fitted for disabled people. It could go to someone else, but it can't right now because they have nowhere else to go. Rent prices are rising, and the allowance for housing benefit is falling. Neither she nor her partner can't or won't play the system: twins are on the way, but they don't count until they're a year old. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Thing is, I still have nothing against people who are not born here, but want to live here. My first, enduring and continuing experience of immigrants is that of positivity, learning and affection. I have been introduced to mannerisms, music, food and cultures that when combined form a picture of differing decency, respect and often fun. I am proud that my current partner is an immigrant, someone who is not British by birth, but chose to be by working hard. I am proud that I live and work with and love people who make the most of their choices and opportunities. I am proud that every single one of my colleagues is from Eastern Europe.

To these people, difference is what makes them and the country I am born in and that they live in such a great place. Their skills, intelligence, and determination to make their life choices work is something that inspires. They make me laugh, and teach me. I see nothing wrong in this.

It's just the minorities we have here, on old sofas and mattresses, plastic and cardboard; they're being shifted back to their own country. This chapter has an ending. And what else can we do? How else could it end?

Date: 2010-08-09 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sashajwolf.livejournal.com
Looks like they've deliberately moved here, on the basis that even begging will get them more cash than a job would in their native countries.

All the evidence I've seen says it's vastly more likely that they were misinformed/unduly optimistic before they left their native country as to their job prospects here.

Date: 2010-08-09 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] solace-aderyn.livejournal.com
I really, really want to believe this, but I suspect my boss is right; she has the benefits of both being from the same native country, and therefore likely to be aware of particular attitudes and beliefs - including those that are mistaken - and more importantly direct and longer experience with these particular individuals. I believe I've mentioned previously that she offered some of them jobs, which they failed to show up for.

Date: 2010-08-09 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] friend-of-tofu.livejournal.com
a story from someone in my family, who works with am Eastern European man; he's been awarded a 4 bedroom house by the local council, in which his family lives... for 3 months a year. Rest of the time, they're in their home country.

I suspect there's more to this story than meets the eye. There has been caselaw about whether people can be classed as homeless if they have residences elsewhere that they can feasibly occupy, so if that residence existed at the time the Eastern European man applied for housing, I'd want to know how they overcame that hurdle. How long was he on the waiting list for housing, for example? How many family members does he have? Who was the person/people in priority need, and why? (I have come across council tenants who've regularly travelled abroad for medical treatment, for example.) Provided this man was correctly assessed and housed as a result, and his home is being used as the family's primary residence, why should he not be able to travel abroad for as long as he wishes?

Even were all this true, I'd want to know what council area your sister lives in and which this man lives in, because I can't from what you've said if the comparison is valid.

Date: 2010-08-09 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] solace-aderyn.livejournal.com
Oh, probably. Both are Milton Keynes Council, by the way.

Please note throughout there is no mention of any sense of entitlement born of nepotism. There may well be a genuine need; I am merely stating my confusion over how the current rules led to a four bedroom house being awarded to a family not in the country for three quarters of the year, compared to cases like my sister being given a lower priority due to the ages of her youngest children and her partner's circumstances (i.e. that they will be newborn and not counted for another year, to one parent who works full time on a low income). I am also stating how incidences like these can and have led to a belief that immigrants are nothing but sponges, when my personal experience proves to me otherwise.

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