Introduction

While fear of immigrants and refugees has existed for some time, in the time since the Brexit vote and President’s Trump’s election, it has become particularly palpable. This fear is in part fuelled by the media and can be seen in many newspaper headlines related to immigration.

The results of increased stress and anxiety levels lead to a cocktail of diseases. These include cancers, mental health problems, obesity and heart problems to mention a few. It can ultimately lead to a sense of isolation and the loss of community.

My experience as an immigrant in the NHS

The media informs us about immigrants taking the British jobs and at the same time it tells us about critical shortages of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. The NHS recruited me from Zimbabwe due to staff shortages. My husband, who is a Power Systems Engineer, speaks of shortages of engineers and they have to recruit from outside the United Kingdom.

Curbing illegal immigration

The Government is doing all it can to stop illegal immigration and those who come from other EU countries to exploit benefits. Not that I support illegal immigrants, but the truth is they leave a tormented life. A life where one has to live a lie and hiding from the authorities. Those who work illegally, pay tax to the government, which they rarely benefit from. They are unable to access medical health or other assistances.

I once came across a man who had fist like swellings in his neck. He was admitted at the hospital very ill. As soon as the hospital discovered that he was an illegal immigrant, working illegally in the UK, he was discharged without any medication and was not even told the results of his tests. As gravely ill as he was he had to go back to his country.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

As a working immigrant, I sympathise with those who cannot find jobs in the fields they want to work. Hopefully Brexit, will lead to more jobs as promised. On the other hand, one wonders how the current employment shortages, which are not being met by the British nationals, will be filled.
Time will tell whether we can live as an entity without the help of our neighbours. Brexit and President Trump have brought a glimmer of hope to those who really struggle with immigrants and refugees.

Conclusion

As God’s people, we are given the capability to reason. We do not always get it right but we do learn from our mistakes. When we have got it wrong we should be humble enough to apologize, forgive and move on.
Life is precious and too short. Let us not take immigration issues personally but leave them in the hands of the authorities as each refugee and immigrant have their own stories to tell. Let us think of our physical and spiritual health. After all, we were all immigrants at some point.
I would like to encourage the immigrants, refugees and the British nationals to live peacefully and in community with our fellow humans for a happier society.

By
Enala Bhebhe
(Church & Society)