This may be a rambly post so I apologise in advance.
Some weeks ago I attended a training day in Yorkshire. During the break I got talking to one of the other attendees who spoke a bit about the migration into her area and how she felt that integration, put simply, ‘wasn’t working’.
Her reasons at first were the ones that I’ve heard too many times before. That a Muslim family had moved in and made no attempt to communicate in English. They communicated only in their own language.
I guess I could have reacted angrily but instead I spoke to the lady about what integration meant to her and what evidence could she produce that the family were not demonstrating integration. At that point her true feelings were that the council had placed the family in that home when she knew others were on the waiting list. That was the underlying reason for her comments.
As I explained to her, I felt her anger was misguided. She directed her anger towards the family when really her anger and her desire to change should be on those in power, those who placed the family.
Also integration isn’t one sided. The community needs to help those new to the community to integrate. When asking her whether she had gone around to say hello, she said no.
Integration doesn’t override the fact that people can choose not to communicate with neighbours. Not every neighbour is going to be liked because nobody is liked by everybody. I know my neighbour opposite but that is about it. Am I off the hook to integrate into my community because I am White British?
It’s made me think about what is integration. How would you know that you were integrated into your community? Because someone smiles at you? Knocks on your door?
I feel like Brexit is now being used as a smokescreen for other issues. Now everything is the fault of Brexit. However much I wish Brexit was not voted for, some of the issues have been around in the UK for much longer than the Brexit vote. Blaming Brexit allows people in power to not act on those issues. Just because we give international aid does not mean that we should not give aid to those UK citizens who need it. We should do both because we are human. Because it’s the right thing to do.