Migrants living in Peterborough were toasted at a community event as they highlighted the positive contribution they bring to society.
The ‘One Day With Us’ event was held at St John the Baptist church this lunchtime (Monday, February 20) with attendees describing the good work they do both in the NHS and private sector.
One migrant who visited the event was Aleta Doyle who was joined by children Sean (15) and Leo (10).
Aleta (44), of Fletton, said: “I want to show the people of Peterborough that the foreigners are okay actually. There’s nothing to be scared of.
“I found that the local people don’t know anything about European culture, history and geography. I would like to mingle with people and show them we are just like you.
“I came here for love. I met a British man in Germany and he persuaded me to come here. You can’t generalise that we all came here for jobs or benefits.
“I like Peterborough because it’s so multi-cultural.”
Aleta, who has British citizenship, wants Peterborough to celebrate migrants more than they do now.
She said: “I do not want to be tolerated, I want to be appreciated. We are contributing to the this country and I think we can all learn from each other.”
However, Aleta said she was recently told by one irate driver that she should go back where she came from after complaining about his poor driving outside a school, and she is very concerned that attitudes here are becoming more like those she experienced as a Croatian living in Bosnia during the conflict in the 1990s.
The conflict was so bad that a 19-year-old Aleta was forced to travel on her own as a refugee to Koblenz in Germany to live with her dad.
She added: “This brings back bad memories from just before the war - the rise of nationalism and how people turned from loving.
“It was a horrible, nationalistic war. People who used to be brothers started killing each other.
“Trump and Nigel Farage, they are repeating the same things that we heard just before the war. It’s the same slogans.
“Germany invited refugees to come, and for that I will always be grateful to Germany and German people.”
Liliana Cardoso was at today’s event with 18-month-old son Killian.
She said where she lives in Hempsted with husband Antonio was very integrated, with people of many different nationalities getting on together.
She said: “About five years ago I came with my partner to start a new life. We found jobs and got married. We like it here, it’s been good.
“We are contributing and paying taxes and we are just living our lives.”
One of the event organisers was Alice Barros (35) who moved from Portugal 13 years ago.
Alice, of Turves, said: “I finished university in Portugal and decided I wanted to go abroad. I chose the UK as I had family here and because of the language.”
Alice began working at a Moulton Bulb factory in Spalding before becoming a dental nurse.
The mum-of-four decided to set up today’s non-political event to coincide with the national ‘One Day Without Us’ campaign which she has slightly tweaked for Peterborough with the help of Rachel Hildich, Paula Giacchino and Rob Scriven.
Alice said: “This is just the start of something to bring migrants together. We want Peterborough to say no to racism and hope. This is not about Brexit, but when Brexit happens how we still have to live together.”
Alice said she had not felt any tension following the referendum, but because she has permanent residency and not full citizenship she is worried about her future here.
She added: “I’m nervous about it. I struggle to sleep at night - it worries me.”
Mum-of-two Maryke Dijkstra moved from the Netherlands in 1983 to become an NHS physiotherapist.
She said: “I feel unsure about my position and potentially even whether I want to stay. I do not want to sound alarmist, but the way the Government is behaving it makes me fairly unsure about what is next.
“It’s not caused me sleepless nights but I have to look over my shoulder.”