A Briton’s Reflections

I was born in Africa to a Welsh Mum and an English Dad. Dad’s work took us around the world. I have attended school in 4 continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. Being an immigrant in several countries, learning cultures and languages of other people taught me to appreciate the importance of respect, understanding, empathy, tolerance, and compassion. Travel opened my mind.

For me, these values were engrained in the fabric of British culture growing up here to complete my education. I have lived and worked in Germany. I have worked 11 years in a multi-national team with French, German, and British staff. I have made and kept many friendships with people across the EU. I cherish my right to Freedom of Movement and will fight for it.

Nearly a year ago I was in a near fatal cycling accident. My life was saved by NHS teams (please also read my poem at the end of this post). After days in coma in ICU I was moved to a recovery ward. I gradually became conscious and began to understand how vital and important was the work of Nursing staff to help patients to recover.

Nurses are amazing people. Their hard work, care and compassion saves lives. I learned that many work 12+ hours shifts and work extra shifts because the hospital is understaffed. I saw that well over 50% of the wonderful NHS Nursing staff are EU nationals. From Spain, Portugal, Poland, etc. Many others are from outside the EU: Philippines, India, etc. All the ones I met were very dedicated caring people with fluent English skills and a joyous good humour that was very welcome.

Knowing how dedicated these lifesaving staff are and then reading about the surge in hate crime since the referendum is very disturbing to me. What is wrong with people – don’t they understand we need and depend on EU staff for our NHS to survive? What has happened to having respect for fellow humans?

Today’s Britain seems like a dystopian foreign place to me. The divisive unnecessary EU referendum has created nothing but trouble. It has amplified the internal split between Tory europhiles and euroskeptics across the whole country. David Cameron made a huge mistake allowing himself to be pushed into having the referendum. I am surprised that an Oxford educated person would be so ignorant of the history of referenda and the evils done with them.

What is worse, the referendum was clearly manipulated to deny some 6 million voters who are most affected by the outcome: 1.5m 16-17 years olds, 1.2m to 2.2m UK citizens living in EU, and 3.2m EU nationals living in UK. If these groups had been able to vote the outcome would have been very different. Also, no super majority (eg 60%) requirement to pass was set. It is not democratic that only 26% of the population should be accepted as sufficient for huge change stripping away EU citizenship rights for 65m in the UK. It was “advisory” or an opinion poll. I think the referendum needs to be investigated and challenged.

Finally, I would like to offer some encouragement and positive thoughts:

Invio di solidarietà, amore, rispetto e abbraccio a tutti i miei amici italiani. Sei apprezzato.

Solidarität, Liebe, Respekt und Umarmungen an alle meine deutschen Freunde. Sie werden geschätzt.

Envoyer la solidarité, l’amour, le respect et l’étreinte à tous mes amis français. Tu es apprécié.

Enviando solidaridad, amor, respeto y abrazos a todos mis amigos españoles. Eres apreciado.

Enviando solidariedade, amor, respeito e abraços a todos os meus amigos portugueses. Você é apreciado.

Wysyłanie solidarności, miłości, szacunku i przytulania do wszystkich moich polskich przyjaciół. Jesteś doceniany.

This poem is about my experience of 4 weeks (28Aug-26Sep 2016) in University Hospital Southampton from coma after near fatal cycling accident. Dedicated to our amazing NHS medical teams: especially: Laura Z, Fei Q, Maria J, Darlene R, Doris H,Rachael C, Christine R C, Hannah T, Marie Rui S, Sam W, Carlos P, SN “Koo”, SN “Kay”, Aggie.

Lifesavers

From coma you brought me round
In the ward myself I found
Where was this and who are you?
You ease my pain
I sleep again

Waking in the night attached to drip
Lights flash and buzzer sounds
You come back adjusting, fixing
Making me safe
I sleep again

Have I died and gone to heaven?
So kind and caring
here when I need help
Compassion sharing

As days pass I see your 12 hour shifts
I see you looking after all patients with cheerful smile
Now Fei sings and cheers us up
To forget our pain – Thank you Fei

From Portugal and Poland
Spain and Switzerland
Philippines India and more
You are here to save lives with care and compassion

Another day, another cannula
Short sharp sting and blood seeps
Haematology will measure
Facts are treasure

Weeks passed now
Maria is here to help
with a friendly smile
she guides me for an exercise walk

There is only Love here
Banishing the lonely, sad, pain monsters

My heart is yours
I love you – I love you all
and I always will

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