Tommy's story

From: Bucharest, Romania | Date moved to the UK: 2010 | Occupation: Dentist and President of the Europeans Party | Qualifications: Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

Coming to the UK was an opportunity to develop my career. There are actually above 100,000 Romanians in the UK and about 50,000 in London. From those there are about 2.5 per cent who are dentists or doctors, which is the highest percentage in any community of immigrants. Yet the newspapers focus on gypsies and gangs.

Some of my patients have asked where I’m from, but I think they realise that if you are working as a dentist then you are not like what they say in the newspapers. On the whole though, it’s been generally OK in my dental practice. But if you’re somewhere like the hairdressers and they find out where you are from, there is a small silence. They don’t know you, they just know what they’ve read.

"Hate attacks often coincide with what the media say. The two go hand-in-hand with the media rhetoric against immigration"

A patient recently said to a Romanian colleague of mine, “you shouldn’t be allowed to work here, Romanians should work on farms.”

So it’s clear that hate crime and bad feeling towards Eastern Europeans has been increasing, especially around January. Hate attacks often coincide with what the media say. The two go hand-in-hand with the media rhetoric against immigration. We are demonised and a lot of others feel this too.

In fact, the Met recently released figures about incidents of racial hate crime which have doubled in the last year from March last year to March this year. So why did they double? The number of immigrants haven’t doubled. So if the numbers haven’t doubled, why has hate crime increased? It’s because of the media rhetoric which has disproportionally increased.

It’s partly why the Europeans Party was set up just before the European elections: we wanted to have a voice and say something against the people who attack us. Our aim wasn’t to win – it was to raise awareness.

The other reason was to encourage Europeans living in the UK to register to vote, to become more involved in political life. Many don’t even know they have the right to vote. So we are very unhappy that a lot of Europeans are disenfranchised.

According to the last 2010-11 census, there were over 700,000 citizens from other EU countries living just in London who may have been obstructed from voting. That’s about 8.7 per cent of the London population.

Our party has actually had support from a lot of English people. They disagree with what is happening and do not like what the media are saying about Eastern European immigrants either.

But it’s always easier for the newspapers to blame immigrants when things are going wrong, like rising house prices. They say, ‘we cannot afford to buy a house, it is the immigrants fault’, but actually the immigrants coming over from Eastern Europe mainly work in construction, especially the Polish. They are building houses. And what is often forgotten is that 40 per cent of NHS staff are immigrants. You are blaming again the ones who are providing a solution.