Walk a mile in their shoes
I have been watching today’s 24-hour coverage of the Dale Farm eviction with a mixture of fascination and horror. I had most of the day off as I was teaching a moving and handling train the trainer course this morning and only had a couple of very enthusiastic students. Thanks to their eagerness to get through the material, I was on my sofa holding a mug of tea, munching on some really wonderful cookies and watching the story unfold before 11am!
I can’t help but feel some sympathy for the Travellers (or Gypsies – not sure what the difference is to be honest!) who have made their homes on the land. Not only have they been allowed to build up homes and a community on this site, only to have it unceremoniously removed from them, but the attitudes of their neighbours reminds me a lot of the way my family and others were treated when we first arrived in the UK from Eastern Europe.
All immigrants (and anyone else who is not part of the “normal” population) are always regarded with suspicion; inevitably it is assumed that we’re only here to get our hands on benefits, better housing and free healthcare. If you read The Daily Mail, you probably think that there are no Eastern Europeans even working in the UK – though a trip to any bar in London will soon disavow you of that notion! I work very hard to earn enough money so I can pay my rent and contribute to society. I know many immigrants and refugees who work several jobs a week to ensure they can look after their families without having to turn to the government for help. How many native Brits can say the same thing? I don’t know about the individual circumstances of those living at Dale Farm. Maybe they are all dole scroungers; maybe they are benefits cheats, thieves and criminals. But I would bet a lot of money that most of them are just like me – decent people trying to give themselves and their family a decent home.
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