Walthamstow is a town of diversity; as you walk down the street, you see individuals from all parts of the world contributing to the culture and life of this small part of London. With the longest daily outdoor market of Europe at its heart selling everything from shoes to kebab rolls, even the birds flying sky high seem multi-cultural.
So I made my way around the busy town centre midday of the 8th of September 2013 and asked a range of different British citizens about how they felt about the high levels of immigrants within their neighbourhood and found, to my surprise, that most people seemed unfazed by the issue.
50% of the people I interviewed replied with the same short answer and sterile expression: “I’m not bothered (by the immigrants).”
On the other hand, some thought that the different cultures made Walthamstow an exciting place to live in.
As 30-year old Lynn Anderson said: “It makes things interesting.”
This showed that contrary to what we’ve heard, not a lot of people expressed that getting a job is harder with the immigrants doing the same work for less. It was down to ‘hard work’ and ‘skills’, it was said, when it came down to it; and that the local tax office should be making sure that work places complied with the law. But when the issue of the UK Border Agency arresting a random selection of people outside Walthamstow Central Station in August was raised, most were more expressive with their opinions.
“A little racist!” Sales Manager, Shakhar exclaimed, indignantly, “They stop only people coloured like me. What about the Romanian and Bulgarians? Stealing and sleeping all day! They don’t stop them, but attack us. We are working, law abiding citizens, paying our tax, contributing to society, what are they doing?”
23 year-old Katie Smith was not as robust in her disapproval: “I don’t think you should stop someone just because of their colour.”
It was obvious that the British nationals remaining in this part of Waltham Forest Borough were okay with the high levels of immigrants among them. I think those who were annoyed by the issue moved up North, as is evident by the decreased number of white British people in this part of the country. There remain a few though and those few are very angry. A man who did not want to be named expressed his outrage at the immigrants taking over his beloved country.
“I feel alienated,” He said, “I’ve lost my culture, they’ve taken my life.”
And, with that, he stormed off.