Looking for brighter future: homeless face of immigration to UK

The British coalition government has been divided over the plan to place a cap on immigration into the country. While politicians are debating, many of those directly involved are struggling to survive on the streets.

In London, it is said, you are never more than two metres away from a rat.

They are dirty, disease-infested, often poisoned. However, according to charities, homeless migrants from Eastern Europe have become so desperate that some have no choice but to eat them.

“Eastern Europeans migrants eating rats, living on the streets, in squats, in extreme life situations is a consequence of the transition period in the European Union, so basically for the first year of their stay and work in England, they have no rights,” said Eva Sadowska from Polish charity organization Barka.

“If someone becomes addicted to alcohol or they lose their job and end up on the streets, no rehabilitation is available, no detox, no accommodation for homeless Eastern Europeans,” she added.

The problem is so serious that Polish charities like Barka work in conjunction with local authorities to get Eastern European migrants off the streets, and encourage them to go home if they have fallen on hard times.

Recent figures show a quarter of London’s 4,000 homeless are from Central and Eastern Europe. Because of their lifestyle, many have serious alcohol problems, with reports of some drinking alcoholic handwash stolen from hospitals . Four people are known to have died.

Often, it only takes a relatively minor life event to pull the rug from under their feet.

“First my papers expired, my passport expired, I broke my collarbone so I could not get any job. But then, money ended and everything ended, so I decided to come here,” David, a migrant, told RT.

Instead of going home, David felt he was better off squatting in London and that is true of Latvian Martins too – he ended up sleeping on a park bench and scavenging for food from bins after several job losses. Now squatting and hoping to find work, he has a message for anyone considering coming to the UK to seek their fortune.

“Before you come here, find out loads – where you are going to work, what you are going to do,” he said. “No one is waiting for you here, and gold does not rain down from the sky.”

Many homeless Eastern Europeans stay because tomorrow might be the day they find work and a better life. That and the feeling that going home would be an unbearable admission of failure.

The major problem that faces migrants from Eastern Europe is the lack of a safety net and what may seem like relatively minor misfortunes can easily leave them on the street.

In mid 2011, the EU will enforce regulations that mean migrants will be able to claim housing and unemployment benefits after just three months in the UK.

However, if you are forced to survive on eating vermin, three months is still a very long time.

While existing immigrants in the UK may enjoy more rights from next year, the number of new arrivals to the country could be capped.

One of the founders of the UK Independence Party, Gerard Batten, believes uncontrolled entry only harms Britain.

“Immigration into our country has been out of control for a very long time now. Purely on the numbers’ basis we are one of the most densely-populated countries in Europe. It is absolutely absurd to have unlimited and uncontrolled immigration into this country,” Batten says.

“The time has come to say ‘We need to end the mass immigration. We need controlled immigration on a very limited level.”

“It amazes me that people on the left, especially the Greenies, are very much in favor of unlimited immigration,” claims Batten.

Watch interview with Gerard Batten