Monday, November 19, 2012

I pity the poor immigrant

At lunch with neighbours yesterday we were joined by their friend from Spain. She had lived in London for ten years. She brought along her young cousin, a woman in her twenties who had just arrived in the UK and was staying with her. She had some qualifications and experience as a social worker in Spain but had come to England because the job prospects were better. The friend said she was getting phone calls from lots of relatives wondering if they can put them up while they try to get jobs in kitchens in London.

The twenty-something had barely any English but her parents had helped pay for a four-week intensive language course. After that she hoped to get a job waitressing. She knew it was going to be hard - she'd already been struck by how many Spanish voices she heard in the West End - but she probably doesn't know how hard. As far as she's concerned it can't be any harder than in Spain, where the unemployment rate is anywhere between twenty-five and forty per cent depending on who you ask.

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