Monday, 6 April 2015

Life of a migrant on the margin

The church I attend in Leeds runs free classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, of which there are quite a lot in the area.  We have one professional leader and about half a dozen volunteer teachers, of which I am one.  Student numbers are irregular but we have about 70 on our books and I take the Tuesday session with an "intermediate" group of about a dozen.

The  topic last week was "holidays ": perhaps not the most tactful to choose for our clientele, but it was the next one in the book and I was too lazy to choose something more appropriate.  After dealing with the vocabulary and grammar involved ("will go,"  future; "went," past) I asked the class to work in pairs, discussing in English a holiday they had had, and then be prepared to report on what their partner had done.  There was one odd man out, let's call him Alfonso, so I "partnered" him.

When it was my turn to give a report I said that  Alfonso had been on holiday to Bridlington.  The weather was very sunny. He had walked on the beach but had not swum in the sea, nor paddled in it. He'd had a good time

When I had finished this brief account Alfonso looked at me sternly and said that I had missed out two things: he had bought an ice cream and taken a photograph.

Alfonso is usually  late to class, which commences at 10am.  This is because he gets up at five each morning, works for three  hours as a cleaner, then walks back home and goes back to bed for an hour before facing the rest of the day.

The trip to Bridlington was clearly the day trip the church organises with funds given to us be a charity.  This was clearly the only "holiday" he had had and the photograph and ice cream were clearly highlights of his year.

A different picture to that which Nigel Farage imagines for our immigrant population.


  1. Farage is now an expert on aids. He is a disgrace and should be incarcerated in a NHS hospital without any immigrant doctors or nurses to treat him.

  2. I don't understand how the point of this post. Does Nigel Farage imagine that immigrants are rich?
    To Stuart Archer - why are we not training our own staff to work in the NHS rather than stealing skilled workers from other countries?

  3. I hold no brief for Nigel Farage, but I'm unaware of any evidence that he believes immigrants are enjoying lavish holidays at the expense of UK taxpayers. Perhaps you could evidence your claim?

    1. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

      I have not kept a file on Nigel Farage’s speeches, nor can I find UKIP’s arguments about migrants on their website. However I think it is justifiable to take the view that generally banging on about immigrants is a “dog whistle” to the view that migrants are attracted by the idea that “Britain is an easy touch” with "a generous welfare state” (actually it isn’t all that generous compared with some of our European neighbours).

      Specifically Farage has claimed that many immigrants have aids and come for a free treatment on our NHS, towards which they haven’t contributed.

      I use the example of Alfonso to show there’s a positive and human side to the negative generalisations.