THE BLOG

It's Time To Raise Up And Speak Up

20/09/2017 16:08 BST | Updated 20/09/2017 16:08 BST
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 13: French President Emmanuel Macron (not pictured) and UK Prime Minister Theresa May deliver a speech during a press conference after their meeting and before to assist to a friendly soccer match between their two country on the grounds of the Stade de France on June 13, 2017 in Paris, France. May and Macron must discuss Brexit, the fight against terrorism and threats related to the Internet. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)

I came to this country 17 years ago. It was actually on Bon Fire Night year 2000 when I arrived. I still remember the warm welcome and all the fireworks illuminating the sky. In these 17 years, I felt in love here, I married here, I bought my first house here, I had my children here and I fulfilled my dream of being a nurse here. The UK was my home. I always felt this WAS home.

I arrived to this country with £50 in my pocket and a suitcase full of dreams. For 17 years I have worked in NHS as a nurse. I've never had any problem. The NHS is one of the most multicultural organisations in the world. Over 200 nationalities work alongside each other. Diversity is what makes the NHS the best health system in the world.

But everything changed last July that immediately made me feel I did no longer belong. The toxic narratives were too much. I felt betrayed; I felt that the 17 years of love were finished. I do not recognise my country anymore. I grew up in Spain admiring the British culture, it's openness, it's fashion. My favourites programmes were The Young Ones and Black Adder. I grew up listening to UB40, David Bowie, Blur, Oasis, Radio Head. And when the opportunity to come to this country came I did not hesitate.

Like me over three million EU citizens have made this country home. But after years of living in harmony I feel betrayed by my government by using as a bargaining chip during the Brexit negotiations.

Since Brexit, I do not feel welcomed any more, after 17 years of paying my tax the government has decided I am not good enough. I've started to feel like a second class citizen just because of my accent. I have been attacked on social media and what makes me even angrier is that my kids are being affected.

A year ago my 14-year-old son asked me if I was going to be forced to go back to Spain if Brexit goes ahead and a 15 months on I still have no answer. My daughter, aged 11, came home crying from school and when I asked her why she told me that another child told her that I was not welcome in the UK and that I would be thrown out very soon. My daughter was heartbroken and asked me if that was true. I could not in all honesty say no!

My five-year-old daughter is afraid to go to Spain to see their grandparents because she fears I might not be allowed to come back.

When I heard the result I felt in shock and I felt betrayed. I sat on the sofa and I couldn't move. It took a while to sink in. However I wasn't hugely surprised as the Leave campaign was based on two lies, that migrants were to blame for everything and the famous £350m a week for the NHS on the side of a BUS.

In recent months I have been accused of stealing British jobs. A British job for British people says the government! Let me tell you something... there seems to be no British Nurses. We have currently over 40,000 vacancies and for the 1st time in history more Nurses are leaving than entering the profession. Winter is coming and is getting more and more difficult to provide safe care. Unless something dramatic change I predict another humanitarian crisis in next few months.

I have also been accused of bringing wages down. Let me tell you something. The European workforce is not the one who has punish the public sector with a pay cut year after year. The government is the one who have imposed the pay cap up on us while they are laughing in Westminster together with their banking friend and collecting their bonuses and pay rises.

I have been accused also of being unpatriotic. I have been told if you really love Britain you should apply for a British passport. Let me tell you something, I do not need a British passport to love this country. My passport might be Spanish but my heart is also British.

And I want to tell you something else about obtaining a British passport. I can't afford it. The price of obtaining a British passport is nearly tripled in last few years and amounts of over £2000. It is the most expensive in Europe by far. The government is making an 800% profit on it.

Also is not as easy as it look. The current system discriminates against the most vulnerable people in our society: the housewives, the pensioners and the people living with disabilities.

I have a friend who has been living here for 27 years, married to a British GP but she doesn't qualify for a British passport because she is a housewife.

The other day an 87 years old French lady who has worked and lived all her life in this country and cared her for her husband in last 15 years when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, has been told she needs to leave because she doesn't qualify for permanent residency.

A British pensioner contacted me the other day worried that his German wife of over 50 years will not be able to apply for 'settle status' because she has dementia.

I can go on and on about the injustices coming from Home Office on a daily basis. I said shame on them!

Amongst other things we have been accused of being the cause of the lack of housing and school places and putting a strain onto the public's services, to bring the NHS onto its knees. But let me tell you something. Without us, the NHS will not exist. It was created thanks to the oversees nurses coming from all over the world nearly 70 years ago and in more recent years have managed to survive thanks to the influx of European doctors and Nurses. One in four doctors is a migrant and one in seven nurses are from oversees.

Please don't accuse us of ruining the NHS, we are running it!

But what worries me is the climate of hostility that this government has created for the sake of a few votes from the far right. People when relocate to another country like myself we looking for a place where we feel welcomed and valued. That is not the case in Britain today.

Applications from EU nurses wanting to come here have plummeted by 90%. The UK is no longer the first choice for EU nurses looking for a job. Also many of my colleagues are starting to leave because of the uncertain future and the raise of racism and xenophobia.

The Government is playing with fire by not giving us, the three million the full guarantee of our citizens rights. They are sending out a message that we are not welcome here. If they don't value us, many will leave. Six out of 10 EU doctors have plans to leave in next five years. It's a similar pattern for EU Nurses. 150,000 EU Citizens work in our health and social care system. Britain used to be the number one destination for people in Europe. The NMC has said that applications from nurses from the EU have dropped by over 90%. We can't afford to lose these people.

I have not committed any crime but yet Mrs May is treating me like a criminal.

The new "settle status" it's an insult to me and my fellow EU people. Definitely is not fair or generous. I will more likely label the offer as pathetic.

She wants me fingerprinted and to make me carry an ID card to be able to work and live in the UK. Also I will not be able to leave the UK for more than two years without losing this right to remain. If I want to see my children and potentially grandchildren grow up, I can't move to live or work outside the UK. And to top up the insult Mrs May wants me to pay for it!

We don't ask privileges or to have more rights. We simply want to continue to have the same rights we currently have and that these rights are protected for life.

Finally, I have been shouted to go home. But let me tell you something. This is my home and I am not going anywhere.

The Brexit clock is ticking and March 19 is fast approaching. After three rounds of negotiations we still don't know what Brexit will look like. Our rights was supposed to be one of the top priorities but five months on my future isstill on hold and my life in limbo. I demand that this government stops this constructive ambiguity and uncertainty that is damaging our country.

I know that there are a lot of British people that support us. To them I say it's time to Raise up and SPEAK UP.

Like Jo Cox said we have more things in common.

Let's take back control. Enough is enough!

It's time to take the streets.