I am a migrant. I was born in one country, spent my childhood in two more, and studied in two more. I don’t live in the country where I was born, or where I grew up.
I am a migrant. I am a child of Europe’s free movement rights.
Movement rights have provided me with amazing experiences that have instilled in me the belief that freedom of movement, both for those who can travel and for those who are forced to leave their homes, should be a human right. I am all too aware however that this is not the case for many migrants.
My place of birth meant I’ve been able to travel freely and not have to worry about visas or restrictions on lengths of stay within Europe. I have learnt various languages and got to know cultures that have become my own, I have absorbed what was around me and I am a mashup of the experiences I lived. All of Europe felt like home, studying abroad and benefiting from the Erasmus programme have been life changing for me. I mourn for the experiences that will never be because of Brexit and the end of freedom of movement for British nationals within Europe.
I’ve been largely “lucky” as I’ve never had any unpleasant experiences stemming from being a migrant. Unless I specifically shared my story people would largely assume I am from the country I was currently living in. This has however opened my eyes to the double standard and framings of “immigrants” versus “expats”. It makes me angry to think about the treatment some migrants get from people and policies. It makes me angry how migrants are blamed and used as scapegoats.
My experiences have led me to work in migrant justice. I strongly believe that wherever you were born, you deserve to be treated with respect and have your basic human rights protected wherever you live now, especially when that place is one of the richest nations in the world.
I help migrant access services such as benefits, homelessness and housing support. Not because migrants “come here to (insert assumption)” but because life is tough, and things can turn for anyone. I am a migrant who wouldn’t be classed as vulnerable – but I am all too aware of how quickly and easily life can turn for anyone regardless of their place of birth or language skills. From illness, to unemployment, exploitation, bereavement and domestic or other forms of violence, a lot can happen to force a person to seek help.
I am a migrant who hopes that whatever your life circumstances you find yourself in, you would receive help and support, not by virtue of taxes paid or time lived within lines we call borders, but simply by virtue of being a human being in need.