Romanians give so much to Steel City

Romanians settling in Sheffield
Romanians settling in Sheffield
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Will Romanians and Bulgarians invade Britain when restrictions on them coming to the UK are lifted in January?

Many Brits worry about thousands of Romanians coming to the UK. But are the fears really true and are the Romanians that bad?

The 300 Romanians living in Sheffield, according to the last census, are made up of highly- skilled professionals, students, and workers.

They are well settled, raise children, work, spend money on accommodation and food, and pay taxes.

The negative campaign against Romania run by some newspapers and UKIP bothers them.

Mari and Leo Balint, parents of three teenagers, have lived in Sheffield since June 2009. Mari works as a medical adviser and arrived here in February 2009 with a contract through a British recruitment agency. Leo is a trained zoo technician engineer but works in medical care. Their children are studying – one is at Sheffield College training to become a dental technician, another is studying law at Sheffield University and a third is taking a psychology course at Hallam University.

Mari thinks the campaign against Romanians, is ‘unfair’. She said: “Not all the Romanians are bad. The Romanians come to the UK just as British go to Australia or the US to work, live and raise more money. We didn’t leave our country for the UK because we were looking for money in benefits.

“When I was offered the contract I found it a challenge and we are family oriented and this is why we brought our children here.”

Leo added: “We disagree with those Romanians who don’t respect the law.”

The family have a 50-year-old friend who would like to come to the UK but ‘we told him that life is not easy, everything is expensive, it is difficult to adapt to a new system’. Mari and Leo want to go back to Romania as soon as their children finish their studies.

Cristina Zorz, aged 35, who has lived in Sheffield along with her husband for three years and is a manager at Pizza Express, is against unemployed Romanians living in the UK.

Cristina admits that not only the Roma people cause trouble but some Romanians too. But she believes it is ‘totally unfair that all the rest of good people, even children should suffer this campaign’.

She also met Romanians who she didn’t want to talk to because they were not respecting British laws.

Ruxi Berinde, a PHD student doing her research at the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture, told how she had an unpleasant experience at a conference.

She said: “I was among a bigger group of UK citizens and when I said I was from Romania they looked strangely to me and their reaction was not friendly.

“I am against the restrictions because I know many Romanians who studied in UK and then were offered jobs as lecturers. The university benefited from them.”

Ruxi said her experiences have put her off from settling in Sheffield or elsewhere in the UK.

Mari and Leo, Cristina and Ruxi say they object to how Romanians and Roma people are often confused.

Blunkett: We need greater awareness

Serious problems with some Eastern European migrants in part of Sheffield have been raised by Sheffield MP David Blunkett.

Labour politician Mr Blunkett, who represents Brightside and Hillsborough, was quoted by the BBC warning tensions in the Page Hall area could lead to riots.

He said that Roma groups from Slovakia who had settled in a district of Sheffield were behaving like they were living in a ‘downtrodden village or woodland’.

“We’ve got to be tough and robust in saying to people you are not in a downtrodden village or woodland, because many of them don’t even live in areas where there are toilets or refuse collection facilities,” he said. “You are not there any more, you are here – and you’ve got to adhere to our standards, and to our way of behaving, and if you do then you’ll get a welcome and people will support you.”

Mr Blunkett said: “We have got to change the behaviour and the culture of the incoming community, the Roma community, because there’s going to be an explosion otherwise. We all know that.”

After his remarks caused national controversy, Mr Blunkett said he was making the point that this is characteristic of the way of life in Slovakia and therefore, given the difference between that and life here, support is needed to help communities adjust. Mr Blunkett said he wanted to emphasise ‘the need for greater awareness and support including from central government to manage migration properly’.

He said: “Central government used to help – we had something called the Migrant Impact Fund and that was abolished as part of the austerity programme.

“We’re trying nationally to build on a report Salford University have just produced which is challenging the Government to stop burying their head in the sand.

“Without an acknowledgement of at least some form of a strategy and a plan by national government to help those at a local level – police, education, city council, youth work – we’re down to people at local level just doing their best.”

Troubles in Page Hall include Eastern European Roma travellers and Slovaks living up to 15 people to small terraced houses, gangs drinking on the streets until the early hours of the morning and fears of child prostitution.

Surrounding residents voiced concerns about lack of action from police and council officials.

Another former Labour cabinet minister, Jack Straw, has said the decision to drop restrictions on Eastern European migrants coming to Sheffield had been a ‘spectacular mistake’.