Brent Council accused of snubbing Eastern European residents

New report says Eastern European’s being exploited through lack of support from council

A GROUP of mothers have backed a human rights report calling for more support for Eastern European migrants settling in Brent.

The study by Brent Alliance for Human Rights and Equality uncovered stories of exploitation, discrimination and homelessness often caused by language barriers and criticised the removal of free English languages.

New arrivals rely on fellow speakers or the internet for what is often poor advice on accessing public services and getting work.

The outcome can mean they are paid low wages, pay for services that should be free and miss out on benefits.

To help tackle the problem, Heather Thomas, pastor at All Saints Church, in Waltham Drive, Queensbury, is training former migrants at her Empowering Families parent and toddler group to give good advice and support but said it was something the council should be doing.

One of those is Cristina Popa, 32, of St Pauls Avenue, Kingsbury, who arrived from Romania seven years ago and had to overcome difficulties herself.

Most Read

She said: “I was afraid and really upset when I first came because I spoke little English. I was angry because I had to clean toilets but with time I got to know the system and now I pass it on.”

Luminita Pisaltu, 42, of Everton Drive, Queensbury, recently arrived from Romania and benefits from Cristina’s guidance.

Mrs Popa said on behalf of Luminita: “Her husband came for work and she followed. She has a four-year-old child so I helped her to find a GP and hospital and get the kid in to school.

“The problem is when we go to the council for help getting a service and they don’t understand you, straight away they say no.”

Phil Sealy MBE, chair of BAHRE, said: “For a borough such as Brent which has a very multi cultural population it is important we are responsive to the new community that comes in and address their needs. I think the borough has been very slow, they haven’t learnt the lessons from before.”

A Brent Council spokesman said: “For six years Brent Council has been running a highly successful Language2Work project. This innovative project focused on supporting Brent residents with low levels of spoken English into work.

“Around 20 per cent were from White ethnic groups, including Eastern European people. Over 40 per cent of participants secured a job. The project is ending on 31 March as a result of government cuts.”