Dear European friends living in the UK and dear British friends,
Thank you for attending our virtual event and a very warm welcome to you all.
I want to thank most heartily the wonderful people behind this European Citizens’ Fair: Our MP, Wera Hobhouse, and her team; our BANES Council; our Citizen Advice; Bath for Europe; and all the other local associations and people who are willing to help.
We’re meeting online today because we’re finding ourselves in the middle of a totally unprecedented situation, a global pandemic.
It is the reason why we can’t meet face to face and shake hands in friendship and support as we first intended to.
But all this can wait until the coronavirus has been controlled. What matters is that these very positive feelings are there anyway, and that they are the reason behind today’s event.
Solidarity and friendship are more important than ever at the moment.
I’m Véronique Martin; I’m French and a passionate Bathonian for the last 30 years.
I’m a teacher, a writer and the co-editor of a book of powerful testimonies entitled, In Limbo: Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK.
I’m also the Associate Director of “The In Limbo Project”, an apolitical group of volunteers whose aim is:
- First, to offer a safe online space for EU citizens in the UK, Brits in the EU, as well as their friends and families, to express themselves freely and support one another.
- Our second goal is to give a public voice to our mostly disenfranchised members, and fight for their rights by collecting their testimonies and relaying them to politicians and the public – through our books, internet site and on social media.
- We want to show the human cost of Brexit for all of us who have built our lives on the guarantees offered by freedom of movement, but have been left in a painful limbo for the past four years.
The latest news on Settled Status (also known as EUSS) are worrying and the scandalous attitude of this government to the Windrush generation, as well as the hostile environment created by the Home Office, do nothing to alleviate our concerns.
We really appreciate the support of all our friends, and are grateful, for instance, to the Liberal Democrats for the support they expressed towards us on Twitter this week.
More than ever since Brexit Day, we need our British friends.
Although many of us have been described as unskilled and called “low value, high volume” by the government, Europeans are a big part of the foundation that keeps the country functional and together.
The list of key workers recently published by the government in this period of emergency shows that without a doubt.
Moreover, the UK is our home: we’re your colleagues, your neighbours, your friends and even your family.
So, dear British friends, if you want to support us and show that you care, please let us know you consider us a part of your community and country. To actually hear it makes a world of difference to us.
My message to my fellow Europeans today is that you must absolutely apply for Settled Status to protect yourselves and your non-British or non-Irish families.
The deadline is June 2021, but I would advise you to do it as soon as you can because there can be delays.
Being married to a Brit, having British children, having lived here for many decades makes absolutely no difference. ALL EU and EEA citizens must apply.
It doesn’t have anything to do with how much or how little you earn; it’s just about proving that you’re living in the UK.
If you have been living in the UK for less than 5 years, you will receive pre-Settled Status. If you have lived in the UK for 5 years or more you will receive full Settled Status.
Settled Status, in spite of its limitations, is the ONLY thing that will allow you to go on with your lives here.
I won’t say any more as experts will talk to you about this. I’m not an expert; I’m just one of you, one of the 3.6 million EU citizens trying to go on with their life here.
To finish, please visit the Bath for Europe website for helpful addresses and advice; and join the Bath for Europe group on Facebook.
Do please read our In Limbo voices in our books, on our site and on Twitter; also, do join our Facebook group for friendship and support.
My last words to you all will be from the classic novel The Three Musketeers.
They resound louder than ever in these worrying times, when the good of the community depends on the good of each individual, and when we all depend so much on one another:
ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL!
Take care and thank you.
www.inlimboproject.org (site) // @InLimboBrexit (Twitter handle)
www.facebook.com/inlimboproject (Facebook page)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/OurBrexitTestimonies/ (Facebook group)