The Boston Epistles 5th December 2012 | 12th March 2013
e·pis·tle [ih-pis-uhl] noun
formal the historical backdrop of St. Paul’s epistles: LETTER, missive, communication, dispatch, note, line; news, correspondence
The Boston Epistles were devised to bring together an indigenous member and a migrant member of the community in Boston and engage them in a letter-writing dialogue, exploring the questions they may have for each other around themes of diversity, migration, immigration, hatred, friendship, community and home. It is hoped that the letters will lead to a greater understanding of the different dynamics and demographics of cultures and communities within Boston and will encourage positive debate and allow for views/opinions to be voiced, discussed and shared. Under the “cloak” of the written word and anonymity the writers’ have had the opportunity to think about and value each others’ viewpoints whilst working towards opening up communication channels and networks within the local community. We hope you enjoy the journey that Ruth and Fred bravely undertook.
5th December 2012
I have been asked to write a letter to you anonymously. I hope it is of interest to you and we may share some of our lifeâ€™s experiences. I am not sure just how they envisage the form of the letter, but this is my take on it, so here goes. Just after the war, I was born in a tiny two up two down cottage. It had no bath, a tap in the yard and a bucket in a shed for a loo. I have a sister who is eight years older than me. My Dad had done eleven years in the RAF, in the war he was in Singapore & Burma. When I was a child he worked in a car factory and my Mum worked on the land. Lots of mums worked on the land in those days and took the children with them, of which I was one, most things where done by hand or hoe, real back breaking hard graft. My Dad was very strict and would not hesitate to use his belt if we misbehaved. I was put into junior school at four years old. Unfortunately, it only had two classes, so we had a mix of ages. An older girl got me into trouble with the Headmistress She lost control picked me up, then proceeded to severely beat me. She was suspended for six months. I never returned to that school. My first encounter with some one of a different culture was two Sikh Indians who used to call selling from a suitcase. We moved when I was five and a half to a three bedroom council house. It seemed like a palace. I had a bedroom of my own, at least we had a bathroom and a lovely big garden, but no central heating in those days. The upstairs used to be so cold, that the frost was on the inside of the windows!! We had a paraffin stove in the bathroom to prevent the pipes freezing and bursting as they had done in the past. No fancy duvets, just ex-army blankets and Dadâ€™s old great coat. Not much money but lots of fun, out playing with mates, building camps etc. When I was ten years old my mother landed me with a brother. Eleven was a real important time in my life. Off to Secondary School in long trousers no longer having to wear short trousers, real grown up (or so you think) I managed to convince a local newsagent that I was old enough and took on a paper round, six mornings a week for ten bob, (fifty pence) then an evening one as well for another five bob (25 pence) I saved the money and clothed myself from then on. At fourteen in the summer holidays I got a job working in a chicken factory. Lots of stories in that one.
4 I left school at fifteen with no qualifications. Straight into work as a trainee joiner for the grand wage of £3.17.6 a week, but had to pay Mum half for board & keep. At the same time I got a job as a Saturday boy in a butchers shop. The dear old lady who owned the shop, offered me a full time job as a trainee butcher, it was a bit different to working with wood but for seven quid a week a no brainer. At sixteen I had motorbikes, great times, Mods / Rockers, Beatles, great music. At seventeen I passed my driving test, went through a phase of different jobs butchers, driving, car factory, etc. At eighteen I meet the girl I was to marry. I was twenty she was eighteen when we got married. At twenty one I was a Dad to my first son. We lived in a flat over and at the back of a TV shop. It had an outside loo and a shower off the kitchen. I worked all the hours I could. I started on twelve pounds a week and within eighteen months got up to twenty one. We then managed to buy our first house for three thousand pounds. Two years later my second son was born. Five years in that house, sold it for nine thousand moved to a little village with a new job still a butcher, worked Monday to Saturday in the shop, worked Monday to Friday evenings in an engineering factory and Sunday evenings I ran a bar in the local social club. My wife worked as a cleaner in a convalescing home. I then took a huge gamble and bought a butchers shop / house in a very cosmopolitan area. I completely revamped it in four days & nights with the help of many good friends. It was very successful, again we both worked really hard & long hours. We had four dogs, (it’s a long story for another day) suffice to say. I took a completely different direction in life. We sold the shop and bought a run down very old farmhouse that sat in seven acres of land near Felixstowe it was a small boarding kennels, over the next ten years I built it up, so in the end I had twelve acres could accommodate sixty dogs & twenty cats. I also built an indoor arena and ran a riding school with some thirty horses & ponies. (Horses had always been my love) I sold up to a property developer as it also had old Suffolk barns with obvious conversion potential. I made a very difficult decision and left my two sons in a house in Felixstowe. Then moved to a lovely farm house in the depths of the Suffolk country side, kept horses and carried on buying and selling them. The property crash of the early nineties killed the horse trade so I looked around for another business. I looked all around the country and found a nice little business just outside Boston. That’s when I moved to Lincolnshire. 1995. I really liked Boston, it was like going back in time in many ways. The people were friendly, many would give you a smile or the polite time of day, a good morning or a nod
5 as you entered a shop. People seem to have time for each other, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the bigger more populated towns. Little did we know that was all about to change so dramatically. It all started with the influx of the Portuguese then as we all know, the flood gates opened to all of Europe and beyond. Unfortunately Boston is no longer that nice little market town it once was. When we walk through the town it is like being in a foreign country. We know all the social issues and problems this has created. Itâ€™s not your fault or mine. We are all victims of incompetent politicians who rule our lives for their own self gratification. Believe me you are all being used and abused, the same as we are. I apologise if I have gone on a bit but hope you find it informative. Regards
Harry Worth Anonymous
7th December 2012
It is strange to write a letter not knowing anything about the recipient so I hope we will get to know each other better in a time and writing letters will become easier as it is definitely not easy for me at the moment. Hope it will be easier for you knowing little bit about me. So here I am: I am a 31 years old woman. I was born in Vilnius Lithuania into a historians’ family. I have a sister who is my younger. At the moment I work part time in a local company as internal auditor responsible for ISO audits. The rest of a time I work as a freelance translator. Before I came here I worked as Internal auditor for Lithuanian Government Institution (don’t think there is any relevance in which one, but if you are interested in my career history, etc. let me know and I will talk about it). My life in Lithuania was fine and I was happy there: I had my career, social life, spent holidays travelling and enjoying myself, my family was close to me and I definitely never thought of leaving Lithuania or at least not for good and not to earn more money or because of similar reasons. I had ideas of leaving Lithuania for short term and for career opportunities that is to achieve better qualifications, expertise, etc. and was on a way to it. Even so I never thought about coming to the UK. So you might ask what has changed and how come I ended up in Boston. That is quite a long story which I’ll try to tell shortly. As how soft it could sound it was love which brought me here. It was early summer of 2007 in Vilnius and one evening after work I met a Bostonian man in Vilnius. We became acquaintances, later friends. After 4 weeks of his visit in Vilnius he had to leave. We talked every day on Skype and this friendship developed. Two years we were spending our evenings on Skype talking, almost every month we visited each other and then we realised that it is a time to do something about this. Initially we thought and he wanted to move to Lithuania but we had to drop this idea as he has his own small company and employs people so dropping everything in UK would have had an effect on many people not just him. In addition finding a job in Lithuania would have been more difficult for him than for me in UK just because he didn’t know Lithuanian and wouldn’t be able to work in the industry he is in. Another option for him was to apply for a job in a huge company settled in Lithuania where English is a working language. But it would have limited his opportunities to find work as qualifications then would become issues too. The only rational course of action was for me to move to UK even if that meant that I had to forget
7 about my career. I tried to be optimistic then and thought that I will sort myself out as I knew the language and thought that eventually I will find work, make friends and settle – I came through worse and I thought that work and dedication will help me to do this again. I didn’t expect to find something instantly but I thought in time I will manage this. I travelled in UK before I even knew my partner and I loved the country which is so versatile and rich in heritage, liked it’s people and I can’t say that there were things I disliked (Well to tell you the truth I didn’t like that hot and cold tap arrangements which marked my trip with couple slight burns) as well as pipes running down the side of the houses ruining their appearance but all this is different from anywhere else and it adds some charm too so it’s not that negative as it could appear in first instance). So I moved here. I knew Boston from my short visits to see my partner and it looked like a nice little place but a little bit neglected. It was noticeable that there wasn’t much going on in the town in the evenings, looked deserted and the only action seemed to go around a couple pubs on weekends. First months were very strange and interesting as I was from a city and Boston seemed very calm and easy. I was used to long working hours, tension, conferences, meetings, deadlines and unplanned business trips and everything which really gives you some sort of adrenalin. My spare time used to be filled with meetings with friends, concerts, theatres, etc. I had quite an active social life. So the first few months in here I felt like I am having holidays as the atmosphere was really easy even having in mind that I was busy sending my applications for job in numerous places and that part was difficult as no one even came back to me. I got job at my partner’s father’s company as an ISO auditor. Although this is not a full time job and requires my attention just couple hours every week. In time having so much time on my hands I became frustrated as I was not doing anything useful or challenging that I am wasting my time which I could allocate for something. Moreover I felt isolated and had no friends or any other social activity. My partner was busy at his work and I was feeling quite lonely most of the time. My partner doesn’t have many friends so my introduction to the local community was limited too. Then it seemed that most of the people I meet try to keep a polite and careful distance. My partner told me that there are a lot of Lithuanians in Boston and I might find somebody to interact with among them; I noticed people talking Lithuanian in the streets of Boston, so I thought how to
8 approach them. I looked on internet but there was no community where I could pop in or just chat on internet. Then came thought that I should create a Facebook profile where all Lithuanians could interact, ask questions and provide answers – just a place to be. This profile developed in a time and took a lot of my time but in general is enjoyable activity which hopefully is useful for some. Along with these occupations I do translations as and when needed. Again this activity doesn’t take much of my time but helps to keep me occupied. Hopefully in the future I will come across something what is more demanding and permanent. I am living in Boston nearly 4 years now. But it is still the town I didn’t manage to tame. I still feel a guest in here as much as I try. I often wonder what the reasons are for this and what I have done wrong. However this leads to a little bit deeper picture. Feelings of being not needed and not accepted doesn’t add much confidence in building communications and my life in here. When I come into contact with locals I often feel a prejudgement that I came here for work and I am stealing their jobs because I didn’t manage to find one in my own country. Very few are interested what is behind it and I am among that mass which is considered to be disrupting the town’s harmony, etc. Being negative elements of a town by default isn’t a pleasant feeling and this shuts the door for open and sincere communication since you are left wondering if your next new interlocutor is going to provide you with their own reasons why you came here with no interest in real ones, hence you became careful and reserved (what is the difference what I say next when already the picture is drawn for you). On the other hand why people should be interested in real reasons or my feelings which are irrelevant for them? Will it change anything? I guess not if to consider just two persons talking about things. So why am I whining here then. I am not. In a way it is just my own problem which I have to deal with by sorting this out my end or leaving. But communities are made of individuals and if their relationship improves it gives more power to create, contribute and cooperate. The town would have more strengths and benefits from a unity than from disunity. However it is an utopian thought in present conditions when tension can be felt. While administering this Facebook page I heard so many ridiculous prejudgements and generalisations from both sides of Boston community and these prejudgements/generalisations don’t contribute to anything positive. It feels as if it is dragged in two different directions leaving bigger and wider gap between them. To
9 change it is extremely difficult as everyone bases their opinions on their personal experiences which sadly often is just fragments of one. People just extract facts from conversations, twist them or base their knowledge just on a couple of cases or fragments of those they faced. It is easier this way than trying to see the whole picture which takes time and requires some effort. Meanwhile both sides feel uneasy in a way. Itâ€™s not just black and white and it canâ€™t be. Christmas is on its way to us and this festive spirit enlights hope and belief. I wish it will bring us all warmth, cosiness and many other positive emotions. Have an enjoyable festive time. Kind Regards,
10th December 2012
Thank you for your intro letter, I received it after I had written and forwarded mine onto you. Oh dear I feel rather a fool. They say you should never assume and how true. For some reason I automatically assumed I was writing to a male, possibly a young man. So firstly let me apologise. It was a pleasant surprise to receive such a nice intro letter from such a well educated intelligent young lady. I was also unsure how much of a potted history one should give. As you will have gathered from my letter I am now in my sixties, I must confess when I write that I find it hard to believe. The years go by so quickly, having ones children so young and working all ones life the years fly by. We have come from very different backgrounds not just academically and geographically but in timeline and culturally. The world is continually changing and evolving, and that includes our two countries. There are many reasons why we are having problems with integration. From your letter, you have and still are experiencing difficulty in integrating into the local community of Boston. We need to look, with honesty, at what is causing the tensions amongst the whole community. Politicians, councils, community leaders, do-gooders and police all play the “politically correct” “tow the party line” game, instead of facing up to reality. Many are afraid to speak out for fear of being labelled racist. You have to go right back to just after the war, this country lost so many young men and women. We had a labour shortage, worker’s were desperately needed to rebuild our country. In Bedford near to where I grew up, there were a large number of Italian prisoners of war. They preferred to stay here rather than go back to Italy. Many worked in the brick yards alongside many that came in from India as well as the indigenous population. Why did they not have the same issues as we do now? Firstly the national population was a lot less than today. The immigrant population compared to the indigenous population was a very small fraction and every body had a common objective which was to work hard to rebuild a life, as well as a country. This country was rebuilt with blood, sweat and tears. People of my parent’s age all had it tough, only the very rich could afford a good life. It wasn’t until the 1960s we started to get a few luxuries, like a TV and more people started to get a car, albeit an old banger as we used to call them.
11 The working man in this country was starting to see the benefits of all their sacrifices and hard work. The motto at that time, and my Father said it to me many times was, “You work hard and keep your nose clean” in other words, you keep out of trouble. We had hard discipline in school and at home. You had to respect your elders and anybody in authority. You learnt Respect, Discipline and Empathy. Where did it all go so terribly wrong? It was in the1970s, that a Conservative Prime Minister called Ted Heath hoodwinked the British public into joining The Common Market. He told us if we did not join, we would lose all our trade to the emerging European Market. It was one of the biggest lies and con tricks ever inflicted on this country. All along his objective was to see a Federal Europe. The very wording “Common Market” resonated with the British people. He knew he could never sell a “Federal Europe” to the people. We turned our back on the rest of the world, countries we had traded with for generations. Over the next twenty years we had many strikes, power shortages, three day working week, miners strike etc. the unions were holding the country to ransom. The Conservatives did their best to destroy the unions and the Labour Party sucked up to them to gain power. Over this period of time we became more and more embroiled in the EU. Many rules and laws came from Brussels and slowly they ate into our society taking “bit by bit” “more & more” of our sovereignty. Add to that, the EU Human Rights Act, all of which was a ticket for disaster. This is the road to becoming a federal state of Europe. We then got stuck with Tony Blair who to be honest is the main reason for us having all the issues and problems we are having today. Tony Blair is a traitor to this country. He gave away almost everything our forefathers fought and died for. All he cares for is himself, his ambition is to be President of Europe. The man is obsessed with money & power. He refused to sign the derogation order that most of the other EU countries signed up to. As I’m sure you know, it restricted the rights of people from the new member states, such as the eight Eastern European countries, entering other EU countries to work for a number of years. This act alone funnelled millions of people from across Europe and beyond into the UK. There are no health checks, no criminal checks, and no proper records. What other country would leave itself so open to abuse??? The Labour Party created a complete “nanny state” and turned a lot, not all, of our young people into thinking the world owed them a living. It encouraged people to go on welfare and not to work.
12 People could draw more money by staying at home and if you were a female and wanted to have your own home, you had a baby and the state provided you with one. That’s one of the reasons we have so many what they call “single parent families.” The welfare cost is unsustainable and has almost bankrupt the country. What has that last paragraph got to do with the issues we are having today? The “Open Door Policy” to immigration as I stated prior, has allowed millions, into the UK, the majority of which are unskilled labour. That’s not even looking at the illegal one’s working in the black economy. The consequences are this. A minimum wage was introduced years ago to ensure people were not exploited, but what has happened? As the labour market became saturated with migrant labour, who are prepared to work for the minimum wage, the British Worker, who would have been on a much higher wage, has been pushed out of work, mainly owing to the readily available supply of cheap foreign labour. This has had a devastating affect on people’s lives. The minimum wage has now become in many cases the norm. The Government, farmers and many companies are happy to go along with this. It is cheap labour and keeping the work force under the cosh. I have spoken to a Latvian gentleman who has been in this country for some time and he has told me of some of the exploitation that goes on amongst the immigrant community. Agency work offering zero hour contracts; workers getting paid with no proper pay slip; workers getting paid £4 an hour; insults and sexual harassment, and poor living conditions. This is what I mean when I say you are as much a victim as us. The majority of the British population are not racist or against immigration. It really is the simple fact that it is completely uncontrolled which the British people object to. Had it been done in a sensible way, limited numbers to the amount needed; had the infrastructure been in place to cope with the new arrivals, then everyone could have had a good living and all got along. However what we have is, mass unemployment; huge national debt; a housing shortage; schools, hospitals, doctors, police all at breaking point and the Government cut back budgets even further. So, as the population continues to increase (current net immigration is 3600 a WEEK),the infrastructure is even less able to cope. It is all about to get a lot worse. In thirteen months time Romania & Bulgaria will have full rights to enter and work in the UK. Unfortunately, that is only a small part of the problem. They, along with all other immigrants, will be entitled to all health care and benefits on entering the UK.- yet another EU ruling !!
13 None of this helps to build cohesion or good relations. You have to think we have worked and paid into the system all our lives. We then see foreigners walk in and just take everything. An example being the Latvian lady who came to Boston four years ago with three children, she has three more in four years and then imports another four children. So she now has ten children!! She is on £34,000 a year benefits and then complains, that she wants a larger house!! She refuses to name the father or fathers of her children so he or they avoid paying maintenance. You have to ask yourself, how would you feel if this was happening in your country?? I have only really scratched the surface, hopefully, it gives you some idea why you are finding it so hard to get a job, and why a lot of people find it hard to accept immigrants into the community. Obviously someone with your qualifications and expertise would have a far greater opportunity for work in a large town or city. As I have said many times before, I do not blame the immigrants. It is the system and the politicians who are to blame. A Polish lady said to me “you have a democracy, you vote in a Government that will do what you, as a country want” IF ONLY that was true!! The majority have asked for a referendum on the EU. The Government will not give us a straight IN or OUT referendum because they know we want out. Anyway I have gone on enough. I would like to hear what it was like for you growing up in your country. What your parents do? (you said historians)? How is life different in Lithuania? I look forward to your next letter. Take care. Kind regards.
Fred. (My pseudonym)
from now on, would you care to use one as it seems rude not to address or sign a letter. - Not really Harry Worth. Sorry just my sense of humour.
14 Dear Fred,
13th December 2012
Thank you for your letter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your introductory letter. Your memories reminded me of the ones my parents shared with me. Of course it wasn’t very similar situation – you were free to make your own choices, work and earn although shortage was the element which made you tougher and you were prepared to overcome difficulties in your life so as my parents. Not sure how much you know about the history of Baltic countries.. I will try to introduce it through my father’s family experiences. My parents spent their childhoods in very difficult times for Lithuania, when the country was occupied and people weren’t free. My father never knew or saw his father. My grandfather had to kill himself in order to prevent his family from exile or execution. WWII ended and Europe started their lives from scratch. But not Baltic countries - Lithuania was occupied and Soviets were prosecuting, sending to exile or torturing and killing everyone who had more land (farmers), educated people and intelligentsia (because they gave too many questions, didn’t agree and were protesting against occupation) so hell continued. When WWII ended it was a difficult start for many countries but not for Baltic. Our countries didn’t have that chance to rebuild and start over. The Red Army occupied independent Lithuania in 1940–1941 and, after a period of German occupation, again in 1944–1945. When Stalinist repression got more intense, thousands of Lithuanian residents used the forests for refuge and armed anti-Soviet resistance. Resistance units varied: there were individually operating guerrillas, armed primarily for self-defence, and there were large and wellorganized groups able to engage significant Soviet forces in battle. One of the resistance fighters (partisan) was my granddad. He was a medicine student before the war – not a soldier. Partisans lived in forests hiding in the bunkers. Locals who could be trusted helped them with food, etc. Occasionally partisans were betrayed and executed by Soviets. Executions were not what partisans feared most - what they were afraid of was what soviets did with their bodies afterwards. Soviets used to display executed corpses in village market squares and observe people who were walking past trying to find their sons, husbands, brothers among killed ones. If somebody recognised them and showed that– it was a death sentence/(exile to Siberia work camps) to all their family. Many partisans when found out that they are surrounded and had no chance to escape just blew
15 themselves up in order to protect their loved ones. They didn’t want their bodies to be recognised. That was what my granddad did. My father was just a month old when all that happened and he never got to know his father. He was raised by my grandmother who tried to hide the fact that she had a baby. It would have raised questions who is the father and it was obvious that she wouldn’t be able to answer that question fearing for their lives. Several times she was called in for interrogations having been arrested. It was by miracle and her sharp mind she escaped exile which would have meant death. So my dad grew up without being able to even talk about his father. Walls had ears – that was not only a saying, it was true. If not being careful it could cost you your life. My grandma tried her best to provide everything she could to my father but in was a constant struggle. My mum’s family had a similar history. They spent 50 years of their lives not being able to freely express their opinions or do things which for the rest of the world were usual as that would have meant imprisonment at least. They didn’t have opportunities to start their own businesses or choose where to work, they were not allowed to travel, etc. They couldn’t change the communist party who was in power just because the elections were just a circus. There were no options for other than soviet candidates for elections. Then and there people had no choice. So when you spoke to the Polish lady who said that you have democracy she is very right – but it is understandable you don’t understand what she means - you just don’t know what it means not to have it. And nobody will manage to explain how it is not to have democracy - at the best you might try imagining it but what comes not through personal experience isn’t “real” enough. You were just very lucky not to experience that. So is new generation of Lithuanians, Latvians, Polish, etc. And they say the same things about their countries now when those countries are in fact democratic. What you were talking in your letter is not a lack of democracy in UK. It can be a consequence of bureaucracy, lobbying etc. it can be seen in many ways but really not as a lack of democracy. You have a right to vote (and nobody took that right from you) for people who have different visions to lead your country. That is in general– you have a choice. Yes, things don’t happen instantly – it is enough that politicians make one mistake, one wrong turn or uninformed decision and those mistakes are difficult to sort out. But it can be sorted out. I was born and spent my childhood when Lithuania was still under occupation. I am happy that at least partially I can compare life then and now. I remember when I started going to school I was
16 expected to know Russian. The second day in school we had a Russian class. I was asked to tell a story from a picture in Russian. My family were Lithuanians we talked Lithuanian at home. I knew my parents had to speak in Russian, write their reports in Russian at work sometimes etc. but this was out of our family. That day at school the teacher went mad for me not knowing Russian. Later on I managed to learn it (as it was talked mostly everywhere) but we never used this language at home. Overall education in soviet times was distorted. But I was educated not only in school. My father taught me English at home as much as he could (his knowledge of English was limited). Parents taught me history but they avoided talking about soviet regime etc. then as if I said anything about it bad at school we could get in a serious trouble. Everyday life was very modest at those days. Shops were almost empty and there were just necessities, not always even those. For example the first time I tasted a banana was when I was 10, that is when Lithuania got independence and imports was allowed from anywhere not only soviet countries. I remember those days when Lithuania got independence very well. That changed everything and gave us freedom. These experiences helped me to realise how many opportunities we have now when those who lived under occupation didn’t. Those 50 years of jail affected all areas. Naturally after gaining independence Baltic countries struggled – they had to catch up with the rest of the world to gain what 50 years was on hold. It wasn’t easy then but it was necessary. Newly reborn countries had a goal to safeguard their freedom and that was possible just by joining euro-Atlantic organisations – becoming seen and heard in the international arena and getting out of Russia’s direct influence. Joining EU was one of those goals. Not everyone in Lithuania liked this idea and there are people who don’t approve of being in EU. There are good and bad points everywhere therefore I am not going to discuss this now as it is a really wide Ocean for cons and pros, considerations, discussions, etc. I am going to talk just about one aspect and will touch just very narrow area of it– that is EU legislation. I learnt EU law as a part of International Law curriculum in Uni and later when working I had to keep quite a close eye on it. So to say that that EU laws are dropped directly to countries and that countries have no choice just to act upon them is not true in all cases. I will give you one illustration of it: I remember one day I talked with my partner on Skype (I was then still in Lithuania) I just really can’t remember the subject but he said something among those lines “EU again told us to do” (whatever, as I really can’t remember the issue, but was something ridiculous). I was intrigued then as that meant that Lithuania would have to do the same being part of EU, so I asked my partner to find out what was the regulation called enforcing it as I really wanted to read it through. My partner looked through the newspaper and gave me a name of it. I searched on that and it
17 appeared to be a Directive (not Regulation) as newspaper stated. I downloaded it and read it through and it was not even a word about what UK newspaper talked about. My boyfriend looked really confused then as he was quite passionate about proving to me that EU had gone too far with it (and I would have thought so if I used the only info newspaper provided). One might think that newspapers disinformmed or so (what my boyfriend guessed initially). In a way... The key lays in the forms of EU legislation. Regulations are mandatory for everyone in EU and are directly applicable. That means, that after issuing it it comes into force for you, me and our neighbours almost as they are and governments have to make sure that their legislation is in harmony with it – if not , then they have to make amendments – regulations doesn‘t give member states freedom to interpret it in different ways. But there are Directives as well and those aren‘t directly applicable. That means that the governments of member countries have an obligation to find a suitable way of action (to alter laws in harmony with the Directive), but it gives a freedom of interpretation. And it is a huge difference - it gives member countries quite a lot of flexibility. Member countries don‘t need to go beyond what is required by EU law but often it is the case in UK. That’s why when I read the Directive and compared to what the article of one UK newspaper talked about, it was such a difference. The way of implementing that Directive in UK was decided not by EU but by UK officials. They decided to follow a harsher route then any other countries did (maybe it was considered the right way of action, maybe some lobbying parties made a good job of their work... don‘t know what happened, but it happened in UK). And this applies to many sectors really. I often notice newspapers headlines about new ‘evil’ Directives forced on UK – and most of the readers wouldn‘t consider or go any deeper to see what the truth really is, just accept the information without any criticism or doubt. When talking about immigration you mentioned that UK chose not to put any limits on migration from member states. Maybe nobody asked you about it then, it wasn‘t what many people wanted, but sometime ago the majority voted for Labour candidates and therefore Blair. That is delegated powers to him to do so. In other words it was citizen’s choice. I am not a fan of left wing party policies, not in Lithuania, not in the UK as they are short-sighted in some ways and like you stated in your letter, leading countries towards being a nanny state, that is spoiling people‘s wish to work by pumping up benefits and leading countries into bigger and deeper dept among other not very well thought out decisions for the economy etc. They easily become popular spreading in many occasions populist thoughts which are what people want but not what the country needs in some cases. Anyway I have gone out of a subject in a way here.. Just wanted to say that it was majority’s decision to elect politicians who did that – it was the democratic way if we like it or not.
18 I used to work in a Court in Lithuania where hearings for asylum status took place. We follow the same EU and International legislation on human rights etc. But we don‘t have the issues you do. People are sent back to countries they came from if the reasons are not sufficient to grant them asylum status in Lithuania, therefore all EU. If Lithuania were to violate their guaranteed human rights the country would pay enormous fines – but no... its not a case in general. I don‘t have more facts on other similar issues here therefore I won‘t develop this theme any further – but I hope it will give you thoughts on why other EU member states don‘t have the same issues with EU legislation as you do. Anyway it is when talking about immigration from third countries, not EU. If talking about migration within EU there are many levels to control it. Here are a few citations from EU legislation and EU overviews on free movement on persons: ”EU law does not allow people to move to another Member State and immediately begin claiming social security, healthcare or other benefits that may be available to that country’s citizens as of right”, “ In general – precise rules vary – those taking or seeking work in another Member State must either be in employment or be able to support themselves and in most cases will not be eligible to claim social security, or to access social housing, unless they have been in work for a year. Students and the retired must have “sufficient resources” so that they do not become a burden on the country they are living in and have comprehensive sickness insurance (whether in a public system or privately). (If not in work for certain period these persons can be deported from accepting member state)” Union citizens or members of their family may be expelled from the host Member State on grounds of public policy, public security or public health. In other words – people who are not “beneficial” to the accepting country and doesn‘t show any wish to contribute to the accepting county’s economy, may be asked to leave. They have to earn their social security, social housing, treatment and other public services. It is up to the accepting country to make sure that it‘s social system is not being used in the wrong way and there are all the means to do so. When I read your statement that migrants beat the wages to a minimum my first thought was – and how come businesses will pay high wages for unqualified labour? That is for workers who are doing line work in factories etc. Is it a position for a high wage when almost everything is automated? Yes, it is difficult and mind killing job (in a way that is boring) but I don‘t know any country where that kind of job would be paid any higher than minimum wage. That is I don‘t know.. maybe there are.. then I am sorry. And what effect would it have on businesses? Just simple math really.. Then their production won‘t be as competitive as let‘s say production from France or Holland or any other country. What would happen then other than possible downsizing business? Less orders, less incomes. Less incomes, less taxes paid. – less public money.
19 I am sure you know all that and that wages/salaries are some sort of indicators of economy. If employer is interested in developing it‘s business, ensuring quality of it‘s product/services it will pay higher wages/salary for those who add value for the company (contribute to it‘s growth/quality) and won‘t be interested in huge staff change as it adds instability to the company but in many cases it relates just for higher skilled workers. Everyone has a career opportunity if they are interested in this and those who start as labourers if they show their ability, skills and right attitude has opportunities to earn more and move up the career ladder. When considering your statement about minimum wages and people being used I did a little bit of research and asked about it – that is how it used to be before migrants took over Boston. What I found out (which may be again not all information and I missed something) is that before migrants came (that is before there was a need of extra labour) farmers were dealing with the markets (not supermarkets). They took their production to a market from which all small retailers bought (as I understand in an auction manner) and those sales were much smaller than nowadays supermarkets do. The production there had to be delivered very early to be sold out. The time was essential and therefore the money for the work done was piece work – it meant the faster you work, the more money you earned. People were responsible for their own income. Some of it is still going on – that is markets, then land workers are paid on piece work and not hourly rate. But nowadays most of the production is provided to supermarkets who are constantly beating down the prices and keep farmers on very short lead. In order to survive those farmers have to look for options otherwise they won‘t be a supplying their produce. Then hourly rate is applied. Maybe it‘s just a rumour but I heard that if supermarkets find one rotten or damaged vegetable in a load they return all load back to farmers yard. What a loss is that then. And how then those farmers can pay per piece for their landworkers? That is not a case with markets..local shops buy from farmers what they see - if in local grocery shop which use markets to stock up for veg (not a chain one) you see ‘tired’ cabbage is not the end of the world.. but it is for supermarkets. From supermarket point of view they want to provide quality produce for a cheaper price and they have power and means to do it as naturaly farmers would be interested in supplying their produce in huge quantities – in a way its beneficial for both sides. And stronger side is pushing and will push it to the maximum possible. They need to compete in retail, they will do. Well I am sure you know all that and this doesn‘t have anything to do with cheap labour. Migrants don‘t go to a farmer and say I will work for a half of a salary you pay the locals. But in both cases farmers need people who would show up at work. Recently I read public letter of one local businessman he was going on about that he had 15 vacancies and got a lot of applications, all those vacancies were filled with English nationals as they seemed were most suitable and had
20 required skills for that work. At the end of the month he again had 15 vacancies as new workers just left one after another. He said that most parts of this job are automated and is definately not difficult physically as it used to be years ago. He was sure that if he had filled those vacancies with migrant workers he would have had maybe not all 15 but at least majority of them still working for him. Work is provided – but sadly it‘s not wanted. So where is that huge unemployment everyone talks about if people refuse it with easy wave. I just think it is not that bad if they don’t want work. And again, who is going to start paying high salaries from on the first day? You have to prove to the employer that you are worth it. Leaving work after two weeks is not enough time to prove anything. The company I work for when they employ new people (if they aren‘t qualified/experienced) pay minimum and in time your experience grows your wage increases too – but it doesn‘t happen in a fortnight or a month – it takes time as everything. Of course it‘s not a land work or factory job – but principle is the same. It is just illusion that bussinesses would pay higher salaries if there will be less work power. The simple economy circle then ensure that economy would shrink therefore other negative aspects would kick in and those negative aspects could be far worse than living with migrant workers in your neighbourhood. Regarding your examples about Romanians and Bulgarians and other immigrants being entitled to benefits on coming to UK as you put it is granted by some sort of EU ruling actually is vice versaCan I remind you: “EU law does not allow people to move to another Member State and immediately begin claiming social security, healthcare or other benefits that may be available to that country’s citizens as of right”. So nor we, nor they will be entitled to all health care and benefits on entering the UK. And I can assure you it is the case. Even after working some time in UK doesn’t ensure that if you haven’t paid taxes. An example from Lithuanian community in Boston: one lady worked here for 1.5 years but her annual salary was quite low as she worked part time. After some time she was made redundant and while she was looking for other job she decided to apply for a jobseekers allowance. She didn’t get any as when she worked she earned below taxed minimum. I heard about the story of Latvian lady who claims child benefits and complains about the house. It isn’t good at all but what can be done about it? Chuck her and her kids in the street? How many English families are like that? Well yes, they are in their own country and have a right by being born in here. Their benefits are paid by taxpayers’ money and it is alright. But how many migrant workers pay taxes and don’t claim any benefits? I believe there are a lot. Me including. I have never claimed any benefits or anything like that nor here nor back in Lithuania. And I work, I am self employed as well and I am paying taxes. Everything starts within a family if you’re taught to take everything easy and avoid work, then this
21 is programmed to be like that for generations. And you’re right – system need to be changed but I am afraid when it will be changed into that to encourage people work – not migrant workers will be disappointed most. The biggest shock will be for locals who never worked and have no skills/ qualifications whatsoever. Not unemployed but unemployable by their own choice. They will be the most fragile part of society facing even poverty. Then I can see further blame chucked towards migrants as taking their jobs. But it’s just simple labour market. If not migrants from EU there will be migrants from somewhere else who are willing to work. And there always be a risk of people claiming benefits, etc. as society is not built just from monolith structure of pure labour suppliers. If there will be very difficult to find work I don’t think that people would still come here – if they are unsuccessful in finding work why would they sit in here? Surely they would go back home as there they will get at least family support. I am not talking about exceptions here when people are stuck. In here you can’t get benefits immediately so draining system like that isn’t an option if you’re benefit “hunter”. You asked how I would feel if it was in my country. If my country would be flooded with migrants willing to work that would mean growing economy, stronger businesses and better choices. Overall it would be positive effect. With that would come social (and not only) problems too – and its natural as it is impossible to impose some sort of magic filter. It is a price to pay too. Personally I wouldn’t mind it and wouldn’t have any issues with migrant families living in my neighbourhood. I know that some would. It depends on attitude and ability to see beyond. It is just my point of view which is formed through personal experiences, information gained, upbringing, etc. You gave examples of people being abused, sexually harassed etc. It is terrible. But I might sound very insensitive here – why those people who are used and abused don‘t do anything about it? If they don‘t know a language – it is not a huge problem – there are organisations, volunteers who will be able to help them, find a translator etc. They themselves can find a friend who speaks better then they do and file a complaint or call to police etc. Fear to lose a job? There are other jobs out there and I am pretty sure nobody would like to stay in the job if bad things happen there. If people are stuck and don‘t know where to go or whom to address I am sure everyone knows CAB and people there do amazing job in giving a helping hand putting on right track towards a solution. Am I wrong? I never felt used or abused, not accepted – yes. Bot not used, not abused. I don‘t need to be victimised when it is absolutely not needed. I have difficulty finding work in here where I could use my qualifications, but I am working – maybe it‘s not as challanging as it could be or I wished but I don‘t sit waiting while somebody would help me out. The only thing what bothers me is lack of interaction and locals prejudgements, generalisations and ability not see things a little bit further than their back
22 yard. I do perfectly understand why I am not accepted – that is because of those prejugements. I guess my letter became too detailed in some ways and made you sleepy. Although I don‘t want to write just statements without explanations, it is a broad theme and you in your second letter touched so many aspects that it would be possible to write a book about it. What I wrote is just a fraction what could be said about it. I didn‘t write about the life in Lithuania yet (I mean nowadays). Will leave it for a next letter. As well as little bit more about my family. Meantime it‘s interesting to know a little bit about yours, what your children do, do they live in Boston (If only I might ask this)? I am really looking forward to your next letter. I guess it will reach me when I‘ll be on my way back to Lithuania to visit my family and friends for Christmas. Kindest Regards,
23 Dear Ruth
1st January 2013
Firstly I hope you have had a very nice Christmas and a lovely family visit. It really is a time to be with family and loved ones and to enjoy all that is good in the world. I wish you, your partner, and all your family a happy and prosperous New Year. I thank you for your last letter. I will try to reply to it in the order that it was written. I must confess that I know very little of the Baltic Countries, they never featured in geography at school, be it for me that was a long time ago. Had it not been for all this immigration business, I doubt I would have given them a second thought. On saying that, please don’t think I mean that disrespectfully, or that I have never travelled. As it happens we are planning a trip next year to Germany via Holland. I intend to visit the war grave of my Uncle in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery near Kleve, as no other family member has been able to do so. I thought at least one should go to pay him respect. We are then going to travel across Germany to Belson then visit Celle where my Brother was stationed. My partner used to have holidays there with her Aunt and Uncle who were also in the army. We then travel on to Leipzig to visit Colditz Castle and finally end up in Krakow Poland. I have digressed. I found the first two pages of your letter very interesting. It is so good to learn of other peoples’ way of life, and how different life and times have been for them. To hear, first hand, what your Grandfather and family have endured. One cannot begin to imagine the sacrifices and hardship your family and countrymen endured under German and Russian rule. We are very fortunate in this country never to have been occupied by an invading force since 1066. ( some might say :until now that is:)I must confess whilst reading of your Grandparents’ past, my mind went to the film “ Defiance “ staring Daniel Craig. I hope you have seen it, very reminiscent of the experiences your Grandfather had, be it, this was in Belarus. You must be very proud of your family. I do feel we are poles apart on the interpretation of the word democracy. Had I lived in a country occupied by a Soviet regime that dictated my whole way of life, to live in fear, to have no freedom, no hope, let alone a free vote. I to, on coming to a country like England would think this is a free democratic country. Unfortunately, by and large it is an illusion, yes we are free in many ways, and we have a lovely
24 country, however it is what you don’t see that really counts. Just to go back to our voting system. We have three main parties. Conservative, Labour, Liberal, and some fringe parties such as UKIP Green’s EDL BNP etc. Each party prior to an election produces a manifesto, a mandate that the electorate is supposed to look at and then decide, which party is offering what the electorate wants to happen in the next parliamentary term. Now that would be a very democratic way of doing things and is the way it is meant to work. Unfortunately the politicians of all parties, prior to an election, look out for what they think will win them votes, they then dress it up, spill it out to the general public, put a bit more spin on it and “presto” win an election. Of course, once in power most of the manifesto goes out of the window, there is always a very good excuse why they cannot carry out their promises. Tony Blair promised a referendum on the EU - it never happened; the same as David Cameron - all promises before the event, all excuses once in power. The British people have become very apathetic and disillusioned , a lot are not interested in politics or what is happening in their own country, again I’m afraid it is a sign of a population that really feels it does not matter who they vote for, as the politicians do as they please, not what the people want. They lie, cheat, fiddle expenses and do not do what they are elected to do, you only have to look at the very low numbers that bother to vote, that tells it’s own story. As you said many households have generations who have never worked, they will vote Labour no matter what, as they know they will keep them on benefits, and a lot of people vote the same way as their parents, it has become more a tradition as opposed to a political debate. I do not agree with you on the points of immigration and benefits. Please find enclosed literature. There are certain criteria, I agree, for claiming benefits. However, these are easily achieved as is clearly shown in the enclosed literature. It also clearly states the restrictions no longer apply to the A8 Countries We do have the right to deport back to the country of origin any EU person who has not worked or actively been seeking work for three months. In reality, this would be a very rare occurrence, if it happened at all. Again, so easy to manipulate. The ONS figure for immigrants claiming benefits last year was in excess of 360,000 Healthcare is free to all at the point of delivery. We have for many years had what they term Health Tourists as well as Immigrants entering the UK for free health care. Just to note, TB was eradicated
25 in this country. With the advent of mass immigration, TB is back in very serious numbers, particularly in London. You are so right, when you say the government has the power to stop abuse of the benefit system but it fails to do so, as it fails on many crucial issues affecting this country. They have allowed hundreds of thousands of Illegal immigrants into our country to live and work in the black economy which benefits no one, except the unscrupulous employer. As with many of the immigrant community that work here legally and send money back to their own country, this hardly benefits the host country. The same as we pay out child benefit to families abroad just because the father works or lives here even when they are on benefits. You ask me what I would do with the Latvian lady who has ten children and draws thirty four thousand a year in benefits. I would give her two choices, she either gives the name or names of the children’s Father / Fathers so they can be made responsible and pay for their own, or she is deported instantly with no possibility of re-admission. I would also deport any foreign national who committed a crime and I mean any crime, including serious motoring offences. Over a third of all prisoners in jail in the UK are foreign nationals and this number is growing. The cost to the Tax payer is phenomenal and completely unacceptable. We have enough home bred criminals without importing them. You are also correct regarding Directives and Regulations from the EU. This country takes everything to the tenth degree and beyond even to the point of real detriment to its own people, all owing to “political correctness” and spineless career politicians. You say you would not mind your country being flooded with immigrants, I find that hard to believe, especially as you have only just got rid of the Russians. Boston was a sleepy little back water Market Town. For sure it had its problems, some anti social behaviour, mainly Friday Saturday nights with drinking and occasionally fighting amongst a few known “hot heads”. But now, it no longer feels like an English Town. In the day time you walk through the Town and most of the language you hear spoken is foreign. You look at the number of foreign shops all over the Town. The criminality, the number of murders, the young Lads tearing about in cars the Drink Driving and all the other social problems, uncontrolled immigration has reeked not just on Boston but many other Towns and villages around the UK. I really don’t think you would be happy for this in your home town.
26 Itâ€™s the numbers that are here Ruth, just far too many!! It makes it very hard to accept and even more difficult to integrate. To me, and many others, it feels more like we have been invaded, with no choice in the matter. When you see the indigenous population in the Capital of your own country is now the minority, it is a grave concern. You touched on the work force and minimum wage etc. It is a complex situation all round, and would take a letter the length of a novel to fully explore. In my lifetime I remember the first supermarket opening in Bedford it was called â€œFine Fareâ€? I think it had four checkouts and people were amazed they could go round and choose for themselves. In Sainsburys, which is now one of the largest supermarkets in the UK, you use to have to queue up in separate lines say for bacon, flour, eggs, etc. Sugar use to be weighed and put in a brown bag, butter used to be in large blocks and they would cut you a piece off with wooden bats and batter it to the weight and size you wanted. You can hardly believe how it has changed in the last fifty years. Where am I going with this? Well in those days and not really that long ago, we had mainly small individual shops, a lot more than we have now. For instance Grocers, Greengrocers, Fishmongers, Butchers, Ironmongers, Bakers, Drapers, Tailors, even Blacksmiths. With the arrival of the Supermarket from America a lot of the smaller shops have been forced out of business. We have seen many out of Town shopping developments, which in turn have had a detrimental effect on the Town Centres. We now have Internet shopping which is slowly killing of the retailer. Supermarkets have responded to public demand, to be able to do as much shopping in one place at the best possible price. They have grown so huge they dictate to their suppliers the price they will pay and the supplier has no choice. In a way we are all as guilty, as we all want more for our money. As Agriculture is such a vast part of our local economy it is obvious that a large proportion of the local work force will be employed in that sector. It is one of the reasons we have such a large number of immigrant workers in this area. Yes it is true that originally the produce would be picked, crated and sent of to the wholesales or specialist markets like Covent Garden, then sold on to the retailer, including buyers for the supermarkets. However, as stated, as they grew in size they demanded more and more from their suppliers. This work was done before the influx of immigration by local people and seasonal migrant labour that use to travel round the country or would drive in from Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire mainly. They would work hard on the land and in the pack houses. It never created a problem because they only came when the local labour force could not cope and then went away. In that way, you did not have
27 a social imbalance or an issue with the local infrastructure as we do today. They could earn good money, be it hourly rate or piece work. In a nut shell, the Supermarkets are all competing for the largest share of the customersâ€™ budget, to do this they need to have the best price on the shelf. They screw the supplier on price, so he looks to save cost and where is the best cost saving, in a labour intensive industry, Wages!! Simple - equation. Supply & Demand. Before we had mass immigration, we had a reasonably balanced work force, skilled semi-skilled and unskilled. The unskilled workers could earn at different times of the year a good wage, as they were in demand for seasonal jobs. Yes the farmers and pack houses had to pay a good rate of pay, and yes this in turn was reflected in the cost to the supermarket and ultimately the customer. You flood the market with immigrant workers, who in the main will work for the minimum wage, the outcome is obvious. The farmers, pack houses, factories and of course the supermarkets all make a lot more money, as the true cost saving is not all passed on. It will not be long before the workers in the pack houses will be significantly reduced as more and more automation is introduced. I do hope I have explained a little of where I am coming from, regarding the issues of immigrants. I must repeat myself. I know the majority are decent people. I have met some very nice people from the A8. You have a minority of scum bags, the same as any country. This is where we should have controls, criminal checks etc. at the border and only allow in the ones needed, not anyone and everyone. Enough of politics and problems for today, a little about my family:My eldest son is married, for the second time. He has a son from his first marriage, who is fifteen years old. His son lives with his Mother. My son had been divorced for three years when he met up with a lady who was also divorced. She has three daughters, two of school age that live with them, and the eldest who has her own place, and has just had a baby boy, her partner is in the army. My son and his wife were sweethearts from long ago, they went out together in their teens. They are expecting their first child together in January, another little boy. They live in Suffolk. He had worked at Felixstowe dock, for various companies, in container shipping and logistics. He had a very good, well-paid job with a company car. However, with the recession came the inevitable, very little import/export and more & more transport companies going bust, the company he worked for went that way. That was two years ago, no vacancies in his line of work so
28 he set about applying for any job. This is the truth. He went for a factory job in Colchester. At the interview they told him that he would be the only English speaking person in that part of the factory, he replied, “Not a problem. I just want a job to support my family”. He did not get the job. However, he now has a job which he has had for nine months. He works in a warehouse, filthy dirty, cold and for the minimum wage - his supervisor is Polish!! So you can understand why I get angry when I hear the phrase from some immigrants, “The English are Lazy”. I know many are, but I also know many more that are not. My youngest Son is divorced, has his own house and has no children, but he does have a black lab that he thinks the world of. He is a serving Police Officer and has been for twelve years. Prior to that, he worked in the Insurance Industry. He works in a specialist unit that targets pubs and clubs around Suffolk with the main focus being on making them a safer environment for all to enjoy. Unfortunately, it is very unsociable shifts, mainly nights/evenings/weekends. This contributed to the breakdown of his relationship. My Mum has just died, on Boxing Day. She was one month off being ninety one, so she had a “good innings” as we say. It was a merciful end, as she had been in care for the past six years with dementia. My sister is coming over from Canada for the funeral and I have the job of making all the arrangements. Anyway Ruth I have gone on enough for now. I trust you have returned safely to soggy Boston and I look forward to your next letter. Kind regards
29 Hello Fred,
28th January 2013
Thank you for your letter and I am very sorry for not writing to you for some time. I didn’t want to be rude just after coming from holidays I got loads of work to do and had some family related problems therefore I just simply wasn’t able to concentrate on anything as this time was quite stressful and busy. I was very sorry to read about your loss. So sad that we have to say good bye to the ones we love the most. I just can’t imagine what you are going through. I wish you strength and peace at this tough time for you. It’s great you’re planning to go to a trip through Germany and to visit the places. I like travelling very much and I am very happy for you. I guess travelling, visiting new places gives us wider understanding, well at least I feel so. I never been in Krakow but from what my parents told me is the place to go if you’re visiting Poland. When reading your letter I felt that actually there is no point of proving who’s right or who’s wrong in this – as like you said – we have different interpretation of situations and it is nothing bad in it. We base our interpretation of situations via our experiences, environment therefore there is no two people the same. Even this democracy definition isn’t definition anymore in our letters – it’s just how we feel about it. Thank you for the attached prints of Shelter website info. I know what it is written but it is clearly stated – that those rights are granted if people work or worked – that is if they paid taxes at least for a year. So it is not possible to come and get benefits straight away. I will not write anything other than I already wrote in my previous letter. Well there is hope for everyone who doesn’t want us in here– David Cameron in his speech said that referendum will be. Not this year, not next year...but I bet it will be. Most likely you won’t be in EU much longer but the sad news is that even then Britain won’t be “clean” from immigration. There will still be a workforce needed, there will still be people coming here just for it and will be more hassle about it. It’s not worth talking about now – time will show. And if it is what majority wants – it is brilliant... the same democracy not bigger nor smaller. There are criminals and I do agree that there should be some sort of barrier imposed for them not to
30 enter the country freely (and the UK has the right to do so by protecting public security, etc.); Well it’s not done, or at least not in many cases. Lithuanians here aren’t comfortable about it too because bad news spreads quicker and it forms negative public opinion about all people from there in general. We are all demonized then no matter what happens. I remember before Christmas my boyfriend and me went to local pub and just before we were leaving some incident happened there, people around us were talking “oh its again foreigners...“ when we were leaving my boyfriend asked the bouncer who stood at the door what happened and if those were foreigners... they weren‘t. Just a couple of local lads had an argument. Then he asked bouncers if they have a lot of incidents which foreigners are involved in, the bouncer said that no and that he can‘t say that foreigners are the ones who usually gets in the troubles – according to him it happens but not more than locals do. The thing is that its easier to blame somebody else and to look better in public‘s eyes. It‘s a psychological thing. Those people who were talking in the a pub that about the people involved in the incident were foreigners were not interested in truth, it was just prejudice. They will come back home, will meet friends, etc. And tell them what they think happened, and here you get already a crowd who will think that those blokes were foreigners and it just adds up (here you get info which is used to stress negatives of immigration).. but the truth wasn’t that.. So you see nobody is interested to have trouble makers, benefit thieves, etc.. I am sure many Lithuanians don‘t like to be considered to be criminals, trouble makers, etc. by default – but that’s what they get regardless what they do. Nobody sees those who are contributing to the society – it‘s too boring. Obviously newspapers aren‘t interested in highlighting it too – it doesn‘t sell. I read the papers from the immigration consultation in Boston – there was the expert called in and he noticed that most of the numbers are taken from newspapers which aren‘t correct. He just noticed that public is basing opinion on exaggerated numbers etc. Well at the end of the day it‘s not about it, is it. It‘s about feelings which over powers everything else. Nobody and not even the direct information will change it. If a person wants to believe in something it is just that.. everything else is irrelevant. Lies which are repeated often enough becomes truth for some. You mentioned that you can‘t believe I wouldn‘t mind immigration in Lithuania, especially as you have only just got rid of Russians“. Well we didn‘t get rid of Russians, there are many Russians in Lithuania. We got rid of Soviet Ruling. Russians are still in Lithuania, created families, etc. I have a neighbour back in Vilnius from the time I was a child. Parents told me it is more than 40 years she‘s been living there. She is nice old lady but she never greeted me in Lithuanian. It‘s been always Russian greeting. It is the only thing i can‘t understand when people living in the country aren‘t trying
31 to learn it‘s language. The same I think about Lithuanians who are in UK, they ought to speak English and eventually they do..This lady I talked about – never did.. Whenever I meet her I greet her in Lithuanian, she greets me in Russian – It is funny at times but I don‘t mind her living in there..there are aspects I don‘t understand – but it doesn‘t make me feel that she shouldn‘t be in there. There are many Russians in Lithuania and they benefit country by working there. Some of them are really warm, sincere and genuine people nice to talk to. There are criminals among them too – just like in every community you can find various people but it is impossible to make a filter which would clean up society and leave it with positive elements. When Lithuania got independence other nationals went to live in there (of course not to that extent as in UK) it was nice to see various restaurants, shops owned by non-Lithuanian nationals. It provides variety and it is definitely nicer to see that than abandoned premises. That is what we see in Boston – I would rather see various shops etc. than deserted town – that is beneficial too, it means taxes are paid, job places created... I know there are people in Lithuania like yourself – They wouldn‘t be happy to live in neighbourhood with immigrants, wouldn‘t like to see ‘foreign shops’, etc. But that’s not me. Of course I wouln‘t be happy about criminal rates rising and that‘s what I talked about before (there are means to control it) – but how much of it is exaggerated. As well as that I don‘t think it is possible to filter people by ‘better type’ even if the barriers were imposed it could stop just the ones who already did a crime – nobody could tell just by looking into paprers if a person is likely to commit a crime or not. I do agree that people who commit crimes should be deported without a right to come back.. but it won‘t shut the door for possibility for something to happen. The only way – isolate yourselves and not to let anyone in the country. But is it possible? You wrote in your letter that immigrant community who works in here sends money back home and it doesn‘t benefit the country in any way. So how they live in here? They need to eat, dress, pay rent, pay taxes, pay for transport/fuel, etc. Even with sending money overseas those immigrants benefit your country by spending quite a lot in here. I know many migrant workers who are travelling a lot within UK whenever they have free time. They visit nature parks, museums, etc. So they spend quite a bit of their money on that, when they travel – they need somewhere to eat and sleep, etc. I know many migrants who are buying houses and flats in here as well and if they manage to save something and send it back is nothing much to worry as most of it anyway stays in here. Surely it would be splendid if all this money stayed in the country but comparing to what they spend it in here those sums aren‘t that high. Illegal immigration is totaly different subject and that obviously doesn‘t benefit country. Therefore those two can‘t be put in the same evaluation.
32 I can see you faced prejudgements too – “English are lazy“ stands among the same ones towards migrants, that they all are benefit thieves, troublemakers, etc“ and that makes me sad and sometimes angry too. That‘s what I mean when people use generalisations..it hurts. It shouldn‘t be done. You wrote that your son is working in a warehouse“ and his supervisor is Polish!!!“. I don‘t know what you mean by this – is it bad and not acceptable to be supervised by Polish.. just a thought.. you didn‘t write anything about qualifications, experience or lack of them which would be understandable.. just about the fact that this supervisor is Polish.. does it reflect his qualities? I don‘t think that his work is something to do with his nationality... I don‘t have any doubts your family members are hard working people as many others and I wish your family and you the best of luck in everything you do. Best Regards,
33 Dear Ruth
2nd February 2013
Thank you for your letter and your kind words, regarding the loss of my Mother. We have had the funeral and my sister is still with us until mid February, when she returns to B.C. Canada. She is a widow now, but was married to a nice man whose parents had emigrated to Canada from the Ukraine. My sister went out to Canada in the mid sixties, like many, to build a better life, not so very different to what you and many others have done here. Canada is populated much the same as America with immigrants from all over the world, with the indigenous native Indians living as outcast on reservations, mainly on state benefits with many on drugs and alcoholism problems. I do find this very sad and it is a shameful indictment of man’s greed. It’s quite ironic really that many Canadians are very upset and resentful of all the Chinese that have come to live in BC in the past ten years. I must confess when I visited three years ago I was very surprised that at the airport nearly all the staff were Chinese, I thought I had landed in Hong-Kong!! How things change in such a short time. I do think this is one of the disadvantages of global movement; purely a personal take on it. What I mean by that is, for example, We love going to the Greek Islands and one of the things we like most is the Greek people, their manner, their culture, their singing & dancing, wonderful!! We went to Cyprus about five years ago. I had been before, twenty years ago. On my first visit I loved it for all the same reasons as the Greek Islands, but on my second visit it had lost its personality and magical atmosphere. Not being horrible, the reason being was that the bars & restaurants employed mainly eastern Europeans. Again they were all very nice people, but can you see what I’m saying. I spoke to some Cypriot people and they told me the Eastern Europeans are cheaper to employ. It’s such a large part of a holiday to us, and the point of travelling to a foreign land is to learn of its culture; its people and the interaction you have with them. I was very sorry to hear you have had family related problems; these things can be very stressful as you said. This does appear to be part of modern day life. We do all seem to have them in one form or other. I sincerely hope you have or can resolve them quickly. As for Democracy, it is good to agree, we do see it differently. I take your point that you don’t wish to discuss the benefits situation further. However, I would ask that you read the information again. It clearly states it is a three month period before benefits can be claimed, not a year in work as you stated. Also, should the claimant class oneself as self-employed, it is possible to claim straight away.
34 As I have said in a previous letter, which you agreed with, the whole benefit system desperately needs addressing. There are so many abuses of the systems; we have plenty of home-bred, lazy wasters, let alone people like the Latvian lady with ten children; the supposed refuges; political asylum seekers; fifty thousand children that live abroad and we pay child maintenance for etc, I really have no sympathy for them. I think we are all taken for a load of mugs and resent them taking tax payers hard earned money. Mr. Cameron’s speech: A very good example of political gamesmanship, he has made this speech to try to curb the Tory voters moving to UKIP, also to placate his own anti Europe MPs. As I have stated in the past, this is typical of our politicians. They can make all the right noises; give out what they know the majority of the public want to hear; and basically hope it will be believed and help win them the next election. Should he get re-elected in two years time, which I very much doubt, he will try to regain some concessions from the EU and I’m sure he could, as it is obvious the EU would be far worse off without the UK, in trade and monetary terms. Believe me, this will all be a big con/smoke screen. He will beat the drum; talk up how well he has done; how we will have such a different relationship with the EU and how much better it will be to remain in it. When, and only when, they are sure they have convinced the majority of the British public to vote YES to staying in, is the time he would have a referendum. I really don’t think he will get re-elected. If past history is anything to go by, Labour will win on the promise that all welfare payments will be increased; public sector workers pay increased; more jobs in the public sector. Loads of goodies, a mini boom, great!! The only problem is, we have no money, so we borrow lots more and end up in even deeper debt and the cycle continues. They would say, of course, it would be the wrong time to hold a referendum. I think you misunderstand my motives for wanting to leave the EU. Immigration is only one of them. Firstly, let me just reiterate. I am not against you or anyone else being here as long as they are working, paying their own way, living as a decent honest individual and living by our laws and needed by the country. My stance on the immigration issue is very simple. No country should have an open door policy. Immigration numbers should be limited to a proven need & skills required basis. People entering the UK should have the means to support themselves for at least a year, all identities checked & verified
35 via Finger print & Photo, A central register of all who enter & leave. No-one with a criminal record should be allowed in. (The same as the USA.) We have in this Country an unsustainable population growth. It is predicted, at the current growth rate of 0.7 percent, the population will rise to 71.6 million by 2033. Two thirds of the projected population growth is attributable to immigration. England is the fifth most densely populated country in the world, even more crowded than Japan. The amount of land available to each inhabitant of the UK to provide for our ecological needs and to absorb the waste products of our consumption has shrunk to nearly a tenth of that available in 1750. The UK is slightly smaller than Oregon, a single state of the USA. We have a surface area of 24 million hectares of land & inland water to absorb the environmental impact of all our consumption, that’s less than one acre each & this environmental space is shrinking every year. Continued growth will need more food, houses, schools, hospitals, transport, prisons, reservoirs, power supplies and all its impacts in the form of waste and emissions. The population, at present via the census, is 63 million but in reality could be 65 million, we could hit the cliff a lot sooner than 2033. Economically, the UK contributes in excess of 21 Billion to the EU budget. In return, we get a rebate of 9 Billion, not however as a cash sum, but in the form of EU funded projects. A nice way of doing it, that way the British public think the money comes from the EU, little do they know it’s their money in the first place!! Add to that, the EU Countries that are bordering on Bankruptcy such as Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, France. It really is in a hell of a mess and still they allow destitute Countries to join. At the end of the day we are a small island; proud to stand alone; a sovereign nation. That’s what our Fathers & forefathers fought & died for, not to be a state in a federal Europe. Back to your letter, sorry things do get generalised such as “trouble in the pub”, as you say, it is not always foreign nationals. However, I have to say, there is a large element that flout the law and get caught. For example in The Boston Standard on 9th January, twelve foreign nationals were in court on one day, all convicted of various offences from Drink Driving; theft; assault; criminal damage etc. and yet again this week a further thirteen offenders. I know this is as unacceptable to you as it is to me but we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact. You say only negative things get reported, where are the positives?
36 Your comments on the Task & Finish report referring to the evidence given by Professor Craig. On page 39 of the report I quote (There have been 1m Migrant workers since 2000, that’s 80.000 a year, probably less than 40.000 a year across the country given that 40.000 a year return. But we don’t know the numbers. ) This just shows how out of touch the supposed experts are. Evidence from The Office of National Statistics clearly shows at least 3Million NET Immigration into the UK in that time, as rectified in the report. We now have to face up to the possibility of thousands of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria and a very realistic chance many will come to Boston. What will that mean, the more the merrier!! I don’t think so!! It will mean More overcrowding; more demand on the already stretched local services; more crime; more unemployed; more on benefits. It will be move over you Polish, Latvian, Lithuanians, we have cheaper workers from Romania & Bulgaria. This will cause more social unrest and resentment. They will come, make no mistake, they have agencies set up all over Romania advertising thousands of jobs in the UK and have had for the past year also telling them of all the benefits they will be entitled to. The Governments’ response to public concern is to send out leaflets and advertisements in Romania and Bulgaria warning them of the wet & cold weather we have in the UK. That really will put them of!!! Priceless, you could not make it up. This could be the turning point in this country, the straw that broke the camel’s back as we say. This country is a very tolerant one but if we are pushed into a corner you will see a very different side to it. Sorry Ruth to go on, you and I are just pawns in the game. We are all human beings and deserve a chance to a better life and a little happiness but not at the detriment of others. We cannot change the way we are governed or ruled. However, it’s good to let them know that we know they are a lying lot of toads and we are not as stupid and gullible as they would like us to be. We must get off all this political stuff, it will drive us all crackers. PS A very good article about Boston in The Daily Mail today 2nd Feb If you have not seen it let me know and I will get you a copy. Take care
37 Dear Fred,
10th March 2013
Hope you’re doing alright. Time just flies and it’s already spring... it all feels like just a blink. Soon it will be Easter and this time I won’t be able to visit my family. We planned our next trip to Lithuania for July but I hope I’ll manage to get there much sooner. It’s been long time since I wrote you. The past month’s been a real rollercoaster in here. We are building a house. Well the house is already been built and now we are doing the interior work. So I have done all the painting recently, my partner was busy designing the fireplace and laying the floor, we still have loads to do but at least we can see progress now. We are trying to do all the work we are able ourselves which makes things a little bit slower because we can get on the work in the house just in evenings and weekends. I will be so relieved when all this will be finished and at the same time I think I will be wondering what to do with all the time in my hands. As I wrote in my previous letter I still have some family problems. I worry a lot for my dad’s health. He is in a big pain and even strong painkillers are ineffective. He is getting all the needed medical care but I feel really bad not being able to help him. Not knowing how I could help is the worst. I just really want to be with him as often and as long as I can. Last week I passed my driving test. While I lived in Vilnius I never had a need to drive a car as I worked in the very centre of the city and lived very close to work so there was no need for a car there. Living in the countryside here is a bit different and not being able to drive can make life a little bit difficult. So I am happy I have done it. With regards the EU – I respect your views on it and you are right. I am not arguing about it. It is your point, your beliefs, attitude etc. Regards all those benefit situations: yes, there are people who abuse the system. And I do agree it’s bad and that something has to be done regarding it. However I think that all migrants shouldn’t be blamed for it. That wouldn’t be right to blame all people who come here for that. Even when admitting that it is the problem of the system that negative shadow is chucked on migrants – but hey they didn’t impose it. I looked once more at the link you sent me last time like you asked. The fact that the migrant workers are entitled to benefits after three months or so doesn’t mean that they get it. Having a right to claim itself doesn’t result in getting it. This right is not absolute in this case and depends on some conditions. Well I think wording “You may be eligible“ says it all..and I
38 know that it isn‘t a case for some. Claiming benefits not in all cases result in getting them. And that‘s what I tried to say with an example of the lady who claimed Jobseeker‘s allowance when she lost her job after more than a year she‘s been in employment. (She wasn‘t eligible for Income based Jobseekers allowance and since her incomes were low in the employment she didn‘t have to pay contributions then therefore she wasn‘t entitled to contribution based Jobseekers allowance either – the info is in the website you sent me the link of) It‘s just an example that the right to clam is not absolute. Personally I don‘t know any people who are getting benefits, I don‘t know their experiences in getting them etc. therefore I can‘t talk about it. But even the info of the website you printed me (by the way it‘s not an official document etc.) provides very careful wording about it. You asked me where the positives are and why it’s not been reported. Well another example. Papers are writing about the problems of littler and that the migrants are to blame for it, etc. (Newspaper writes about the problem and the problem wouldn’t be there if not a migrants in the town. Newspaper wouldn’t write about the fact that a migrant picked up somebody’s else’s dropped litter and placed it in a bin – what kind of a news would that be..Nobody with common sense would write about it.) Why I talk about it. Again just a little reflection from my memory to illustrate that. I guess half year ago my partner and I were walking in the town and met our acquaintance, a man from Lithuania. We knew him from the gym we go to. Then we stood in the street talking and the piece of polyethylene was blown about near to us. I watched how he excused himself, went picked it up and placed it in a bin. Just simple action – many people would do the same, some of them would just ignore it. It’s definitely nothing for newspapers to write about. But it’s not negativity. I remember when I visited UK first time maybe 11 years ago I was really shocked to see so much litter everywhere. It is a problem. But again to say that just migrants are responsible for that it would be not right. Well I am from Vilnius, and for the comparison it is a green and clean city.. Well this was minor and maybe irrelevant example. Here is another one. There is a Lithuanian lady who thought about on how to help to occupy teenagers with some useful activity. So now she is organising dance classes and other activities for the teenagers. It’s not just for Lithuanian teenagers, for every teenager in Boston who wants it. Their activity is not highlighted by press either. Last week I saw a couple stories (in Lithuanian press) – one was about that Lithuanian saved somebody’s life in UK, the other was about a Lithuanian who is doing some voluntary work to help some charity in UK . There are good things happening all around – just the thing is that it remains unseen, unnoticed partially because it’s not an exciting news about somebody doing good things and partially because everyone who are against migration are concentrating their attention on how to prove and justify their point about the bad things migration brings to the country. The truth is that there are both – good and bad things – but as we can’t turn the blind eye on all the negatives as you
39 said, we can’t ignore positives and to base everything just on the negatives either. Lithuanian population is about 3 million. Therefore even 140 thousand (2010 – 2011) working age people leaving Lithuania makes a significant impact and loss for Lithuania’s budget and economy. Of course not all of them are going to UK although it is the most popular destination, according to the data Lithuanians are going for work purposes to Ireland, Norway, Germany, Spain, Sweden, USA. I really don’t think that these numbers of Lithuanians spread all over the world will change the accepting country’s culture. People migrate all the time. You wrote that your sister is living in Canada and she went there with her husband then who was Ukrainian. So I do agree it is very ironic Canadians mind Chinese in there as they are 3rd or 4th generation migrants themselves. Is it a race issue? We all know families whose relatives migrated from UK to Australia, USA etc. Hence we are not happy when somebody is coming to UK. I think that what really matters is how individuals are getting on with each other. And this is going to be difficult if a person has already painted a picture of his new neighbour or colleague based on negativities the one doesn’t possibly have but is considered to have because newspapers wrote so or that person belongs to certain group, etc. There shouldn’t be any assumptions but sadly there are. And I won’t change it as you said that you won’t change the decisions made by politicians. We might have some minor influence if will try very hard but individual alone can’t do much in the big spectrum. We all know that there are 3 ways to deal with various situations we are unhappy about (well Psychology theory say there are those 3 ways) First one is – to change the situation. If we can’t change the situation, we have a second option – accept the situation (which is very difficult if we don’t like the situation in the first place) – and if we can’t do that we still have the third option -that is to leave the situation. I guess now we are just trying to change things which we say we can’t change... so it is just exhausting attempts to drain our energy to nothing really useful when it could be redirected to something positive and beneficial to us and our environment. I hope the real spring will come soon – weather will get warmer and brighter and we will be happier enjoying ourselves in the rays of the sun, maybe it even will inspire us some new ideas. I wish you and your family that happiness you were longing for in your letter. That little bit for a life to be brighter. Take care. Kind Regards,
40 Dear Ruth.
12th March 2013
Thank you for your letter received today and a special thank you for the lovely card, you very kindly sent, when on your weekend away in Whitby. It is a lovely part of the country and such a contrast to the Lincolnshire countryside. I think it does us all good to get away from time to time, to escape the pressures of everyday life, to have fun and enjoyment, to return revitalized and ready to tackle the next challenge. It sounds like you and your partner have been very busy decorating and preparing your new home. I know it is hard work juggling the time between going to work and working at home on your own project but also very exciting and rewarding. There is no better feeling, when it is all finished, you sit, relax and enjoy, knowing it is what you have created together. I just had a little chuckle reading the first part of your letter. You said, “It’s already Spring”, but as I sit writing to you the snow is lashing down and it is only one degree Celsius. But, you’re quite right, “it is Spring!!” We did have a couple of nice days, now it’s back to Winter. Hopefully, it will improve soon and we will get a decent Summer. I’m sure we are all ready for a little warmth and sunshine. I am very sorry to hear of your dad’s health issues, it must be a very worrying time for you and your family. I hope things work out, to enable you to make the trip home to be with him. You are helping him, he has the comfort of knowing you care and love him. I have just come out of hospital after having a major operation on my left hand. I have a condition called Dupuytren’s Contracture, I actually have it in both hands. It is a thickening of tissue around the tendon that causes the fingers to bend in and become unable to straighten. I have been told it is most common in people from the Celtic countries and can be hereditary, So I have no chance with my dad being Irish and grandparents being Scottish!! By all accounts, it is believed to stem from the Vikings. So you see, they came over raping & pillaging and I’m paying for it!! lol. On a lighter note, “Congratulations on passing your driving test”. I remember, even now after all these years, when I passed my test. I was seventeen at the time. It felt like I had been given my freedom / liberation to be able to travel; to go places without adults. My first car was a Hillman Husky which
41 cost £10, “boy have we moved on!!” Seriously, I hope you have many happy and safe journeys in the years to come. Reference your paragraph on the EU and benefits, we are both agreed that there are abuses of the benefit system in this country from all walks of life. I completely agree with you, it is far from just the immigrant community. However, the ONS gave out a figure of nearly four hundred thousand immigrants claiming benefits last year and fifty thousand children living abroad getting benefits from the UK. I know it is the Government that has allowed these abuses to happen but it would appear we are under EU law and they dictate that we cannot change it. There are good and bad in all nationalities. Unfortunately, it’s the bad ones who always stand out. The very fact we have no control or checks on our borders has, allowed many undesirables to enter this country. This in itself is a huge problem to all decent people in this country and certainly does nothing to help the immigrant or local community. I feel I have to repeat myself. For hundreds of years this country has welcomed immigrants from all over the world, but never on the scale that we have seen in the past twelve years, averaging between two hundred and two hundred and fifty thousand a year net. That’s the problem Ruth not race colour or nationality. Numbers/Population. Even Labour who allowed this happen has now admitted they got it wrong and the Cons / Lib Dems are running scared. Had the work the infrastructure and the money been there; had the numbers been limited to the number required; integration & cohesion would not be an issue. It really is not a case of stereotyping or race. We all get along with nice decent people irrespective of where they’re from. However, we all know the problems that mass uncontrolled immigration has brought to all of us. The sooner we leave the EU for me the better. Take back control of our borders and our country for the good of all before we are totally swamped. I must finish on a good note. My grandson was born on the 4th Feb. He has a mop of black hair and his name is Frankie. I have enclosed a picture for you.
42 I have enjoyed receiving your letters and replying to them, I think we both have strong views and in many ways we agree, and if we disagree so what, thatâ€™s life. We can still be friends. I hope all goes well for you & your partner & your family. Best wishes. Kind regards
The Alchemy Project Communities Free from Hate
The Alchemy Project is an innovative pilot project based in Boston, Lincolnshire, and the surrounding area that is fostering a better understanding of the townâ€™s culturally diverse community. The Alchemy Project is about breaking down barriers and from February 2012 to March 2013 The Alchemy Project engaged with a wide cross-section of Bostonâ€™s culturally diverse communities in an attempt to unravel the myths, misunderstandings and prejudices associated with the arrival of migrants into the area. Through a programme of creative interventions including creative writing, film making, drama, dance and music, The Alchemy Project has been encouraging confidence so people are not afraid to report crimes against them. Devised and delivered by cultural solutions UK, The Alchemy Project has been blending an innovative programme of arts and cultural activity with a specially-devised training programme for volunteers, local authorities and community organisations, helping to encourage understanding. The Alchemy Project is an initiative run by JUST Lincolnshire, the countyâ€™s equality and human rights organisation, with funding from the Community Development Foundation.
www.alchemyproject.eu | www.justlincolnshire.org.uk | www.culturalsolutions.co.uk
Published on Apr 28, 2013
THE ALCHEMY PROJECT. A series of letters written anonymously between a 32 year old Lithuanian woman and a 63 year old Britsh man over a four...