Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Slough and Migrants

Slough was built on immigration. Since the 1920s, people have come here from across the UK and around the world to look for work. The reason migrants came here in the 1920s is the reason they come here now - jobs.  Slough's unemployment is just 1.4%, and the average wage is £558 per week. Slough's economy relies on migrant workers. It's the most ethnically diverse area outside London.There are 150 different languages spoken there. The last census found that two in every five of the town's residents had migrated to the UK. Slough's story is driven by economics: the town that built its success on immigration Slough voted for Brexit. The town that made its fortune with migrant labour wanted out of Europe.

 Salvatore Carus's business cuts and polish marble. Caruso, uses Polish workers. His workforce has tripled in size in the past decade. "If you take the migrant workers out of it, who's going to do the work?" he asks.

Sylwia Leszczynska is Polish and came to Slough 11 years ago to work as a carer for elderly people. She planned her future in the UK. She bought a house with her husband, Konrad. Their children go to British schools.But she doesn't believe in the dream anymore.
''Immigration, it's not so good an idea, like we thought before," she says. "I now think more about going back to Poland.I've got a feeling they don't want us here.”
Her husband nods, and adds quietly: "Mr Farage opened Pandora's box. And now it's just worse really, worse than it was before."
Arturo Benjumeda and Arturo Jr., from Spain both work at a printing company. In Seville - a city where almost a third of the population is unemployed - he faced losing his home.
"I arrived here at night time, and I was already working in the morning," he says "Everything was new for me, so I felt quite stressed and very nervous."
His wife, Maria, has also found work, in a pub. The Brexit vote didn't put them off. "Our situation was so desperate, we had nothing to lose by coming here," she says.
There are plenty of people in Slough who are unhappy about immigration. "Strain on the resources" is the most common complaint you hear. But despite the pressure, research suggests most communities still get along.
Rob Deeks runs a charity that works with children. "When we ask them if they've experienced racism, they have, but not in Slough," he says. "They say, 'In the town up the road,' or, 'On the train.' This place is diverse, but it gets on."

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