Neighbours and Friends

I have the best next door neighbours who are from Romania, they’ve been here 4 years and moved in next door about 2 years ago.

I have never felt the need to learn another language but I’m learning through Google Translate and Duolingo in order to help my neighbours navigate all the complications and consequences of Brexit.

Covid hit the U.K. around the time that there was a rush of EU Settlement applications before the deadline, it’s complicated , even for a native English speaker — add to that , the Helpline for applications was (conveniently) closed due to staff shortages for a time,  as the deadline ticked away day by day . There was no advice whatsoever, when I finally got through on one occasion, they refused to speak to me because I wasn’t the applicant, my neighbours could not understand enough of the security questions to pass the checks that would allow them to give authority for me to speak on their behalf and they informed us that there were no Romanian speakers available to assist, one man said “We used to have a few Romanian translators, but there’s hardly any left now. “

I wonder why?

I furiously googled forums and finally found the answers to complete their applications successfully. I could feel their stress, their lives literally “In Limbo. “

Once we had the answer we did manage to assist a few of their friends and work colleagues to successfully gain pre-settled status but it felt like the process was deliberately designed to be obstructive , absolutely shameful and unnecessary.

My neighbours continue to improve their English language skills, they work hard and are an absolute delight to be around, so kind and helpful!

I am so sorry that my fellow citizens voted as they did , I feel like a stranger in my own country , I was almost glad of the first lockdown , just so I didn’t have to have encounters with the many blinkered people I used to call friends .

When someone uproots their entire life to come to another country to make a life, they are NOT just taking, they are also contributing, not just financially but in any number of other ways.

I’ve read some of your stories, it’s no wonder you all feel let down by the U.K. I wish you all the very best ❤

Carolanne, 52, British, living in the UK

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