It is a great shame that a culture of fear of foreigners seems all pervasive when it comes to immigration.
I live on Bolsover Road in the heart of Page Hall and have done since 2007. In that time the ethnic mix has changed quite dramatically. There has been a large increase in Slovakian Roma families who have, naturally, brought with them there own culture and habits.
Much is made of “the problems” and “difficulties” faced by the local population, council and police, including the BBC documentary “Police under pressure”.
I see very little coverage of the positive outcomes for the community.
Roma people like to congregate outside rather than inside their houses. This can be seen as a problem or as a great opportunity for social interaction and cohesion. Also crimes against property have decreased significantly due to the increased footfall in the area. On my street there is no evidence of drug use, supply or production, prostitution, knife or gun crime, mugging, violent crime or any other social ills.
There is a problem with excessive litter, which let’s face it hardly warrants the hyped media attention the area is receiving!
It is high time the people of Page Hall started to engage with the Slovak community and the best way to do that is to stop watching fear fuelled television documentaries about how bad they are and to step outside and meet them.
Generally their English is a bit limited (but it’s much better than my Slovak!)
The kids are very active and excitable, always riding bikes and kicking balls around but they are also very respectful and polite.
We all have fear of the unknown, but by stepping out with an open mind and looking for the positives, we can realise that Page Hall is in fact a very joyful place to live.