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We are all born explorers. We start exploring from a very young age. This is how we learn about tastes,smells and objects. Some of us explore more than others and some wish they explored more. When one person wants to travel to a different city, the other may want to travel to another continent. Immigration is another way of exploring what the world has to offer.
Immigration is something that has been going on for centuries. Some immigrate for love, jobs, better life for their family. Others immigrate to be away from wars and conflict. Some are made to leave their home. In the world today, to move abroad for study, work or leisure is seen as normal. It is something that many people do in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the reality of immigration is poorly understood sometimes, leading to tension in communities.
What comes into your head when someone mentions the word ‘migration’? ‘Illegal’, ‘lazy’, ‘job stealer’ ‘benefit thieves’ are just to name a few of the words that people associate with immigrants. However, these words are far from the truth and the media is the main reason to blame for this. When you may have considered moving to a different country to do further studies or to work, did you consider the native residents may associate you with those words mentioned above? Is that something you would be expecting?
Immigrant populations contribute to our society through work, economy, food, cultural diversity and knowledge. Since 2000, migrants have made a net contribution of £25bn to public finances, consequently making a huge contribution to the economy. This contribution can go unrecognised and migrants are treated badly because the truth is not misunderstood. Migrants also suffer a lot of problems. To get through the migrant system to work or study is difficult. Even after getting through, they face challenges for jobs and money. Along with all of these, there is the stigma that migrants use the welfare system and do not work. Only 3% of migrants seek benefits. 19% of social workers are from migrant populations.
Unfortunately even in the current 21st century,many people are forced out of their homes and countries. These people have to seek refuge in other countries. The UK is home to less than 2% of the world’s refugees. Asylum seekers do not come to the UK to claim benefits. Most do not even know that they would receive financial support. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and are forced to rely on welfare support, providing them with as little as £5 a day to live on. They cannot choose where to live and have to pay for accommodation themselves. These are usually ‘hard to let’ properties, where other people do not want to live.
We live in a world that is becoming more and more globalised and immigration plays a key role in this. Immigration has influenced our lives in many ways, some of which we are not even aware of because we do not know any different. We are more international than ever before. The products we have access to, the information we learn about, the food we eat, the activities we undertake in our spare time, the reduction in costs of international travel, supply of labour, opportunities to travel are all positive results of a migrating world. Migration has also influenced art, poetry and drama. It has enabled people to have a wider range of options in their daily lives both in terms of work and leisure. In 2010, there were 214 million international migrants worldwide, forming 3% of the world’s population.
Everyone has a story, wherever they have come from and however old they may be. Team V is a volunteering organisation that carries out different campaigns. Our current campaign “Routes to Roots” focuses on migration. We are campaigning to reduce the negativity associated with migration and promote better understanding.