"I feel like my life is currently on hold"

21 July 2017

This story was sent to us by Malika, an EU citizen who resides in the UK.

"I am a French citizen, who lived in the UK for nearly 15 years. My husband is British and we have two children born here. We currently live in Norfolk. I have worked all the time I lived in the UK apart from when I had the children. I was also once elected locally as a Parish Councillor and have contributed, just like many EU nationals, tremendously to the economy or to my community, with countless hours of volunteering.

I am absolutely distressed by the current situation we are in. I feel my life is currently on hold, not knowing whether I will still be able to work and live, pay my mortgage and continue studying with the Open University in the little time I have after work and family commitments.

Therefore, I have organised coffee chats with EU nationals and friends in my area and was amazed that around 20-25 people came along to the first one, including guests instrumental in the making of the book ‘In Limbo’ – a collection of stories from EU nationals about their experiences post-referendum. We wanted to see in which ways we may work together to bear witness to this untenable and intolerable situation, which is placing huge amounts of stress on myself, my family and many others.

I am saddened that accounts of bullying and racial abuse in jobs, discrimination, applications for permanent residency rejected by the Home Office, racial abuse in shops and so on, have been exchanged during these coffee chats. I was also made aware of experiences of people feeling singled out in their workplaces or parents fearing for their children at school. We feel this is due to the bad press migrants have falsely suffered over the years and a change in attitudes, namely an entrenched unconscious bias and bystander effect empowering people with the most negative attitudes towards us to speak and act  in unreasonable terms towards us.

I also understand that administrative demands of passports and proof of permanent residence were made by schools and employers, which in turn make EU citizens feel like they are screened and targeted. The common theme arising from our conversations is that we feel vulnerable, upset, unwanted and we fear for our futures in a country we love deeply and see as our home."

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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