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OU on the BBC: Meet The Immigrants - Programme six

Updated Tuesday, 8th April 2008

Find out more about the sixth programme in the BBC/OU Meet the Immigrants series.

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Famara Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

In this film we catch up with Plymouth taxi-driver Catalin Dobrisan, who left his family in Romania to work as a taxi driver in UK. The plan was that his wife and children should join him as soon as possible, but now his wife, Anna, is delaying the move. Caitlin is discovering that the emotional price of being an economic migrant in the new Europe can be high. Concerned about his marriage, he heads back to his home in Oradea, western Romania. He discovers one reason Anna doesn’t want to come to England yet is that she’s learning to drive. Lessons are cheaper in Romania and she’s keen to be independent when she comes to the UK.

After talking things through at home, Caitlin heads back to Plymouth a happier man, but money is still an issue. He’ll need to work hard to save up enough to pay the rent on a family house in Plymouth. Anna does finally visit him there, but only on a visit: she’s comes to help Catalin plan for the family’s move. They look at properties six times as expensive as those in Romania, but, after six months of living in different countries, their future’s settled, and they agree the sacrifice was worth it.

Each year, about 20,000 people are refused asylum in the UK. Famara Cessay, from the Gambia in West Africa, is one of them. He came to the UK after a military coup and claimed asylum. But his claim was denied and he’s living on borrowed time. He’s not allowed to work and has to survive on weekly welfare vouchers, which he redeems in his local supermarket for basic foodstuffs. He’s provided with a room in a house in Leeds and shares the kitchen with other asylum seekers. A drop-in centre in the city is a lifeline for him and many others in his predicament. Here he gets a cooked meal, and support and advice on whether he can continue to appeal to remain in the UK.

Famara’s plans get a major setback. He’s received a letter threatening to stop his housing and food vouchers, so he’s had no choice but to apply for voluntary return – a scheme which would give him financial help to go back to the Gambia.

Unlike Famara, Mohamed Elshafie is allowed to work. He’s a junior doctor at a hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire. He came from Sudan four years ago to complete his medical training, and his work permit allows him to have a job as a junior doctor. Mo might only be here temporarily but he carries enormous responsibility, having to break bad news to patients, and covering the night shift in a busy surgical ward. However, if his career is to progress he needs to change his status to that of ‘highly skilled migrant’ so he can start applying for more senior jobs in his chosen specialisation of surgery. But Mohamed's life in Britain is to prove no smoother than Famara's...

First broadcast: Monday 14 Apr 2008 on BBC ONE

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