Woman picking strawberriesCopyright of the image
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It seems that something remarkable is happening when it comes to public concerns about immigration: British attitudes seem to be undergoing a turnaround.

While immigration was once perceived as the UK's main problem and its negative impact on national life, it is no longer on the list of voters' concerns. Polls suggest that more and more people think it has had a positive impact on Britain.

The story of Emilia

For Emilia Koziol-Wisniewski, one of the first Polish people to come to the UK after enlargement of the EU 15 years ago, the result of the 2016 referendum was a low point.

"After the referendum, I had been crying for days because we moved here to live here, our house is here," Emilia told me.

Emilia started a successful Polish food company in a factory located in the small village of Marden, Herefordshire.

But since the referendum campaign on Brexit, she says, she has been a victim of abuse and racism.

"The comments were vile," Deport them, "" Get rid of them, "Emilia tells me. "I think the referendum on Brexit gave people the power to say certain things."

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In February, the parish council of Marden had to apologize publicly for a racist remark addressed to the Poles by a councilor at a meeting.

Since then, all ward counselors have been trained on equality and diversity.

But there are more and more signs from another, more positive point of view, about immigration to Marden.

"On the one hand, after the referendum, we had people who would be mean in their comments.

"And then we would have people come and say," It's not in my name. I apologize on behalf of my nation. I welcome you here, "says Emilia.


Emilia Koziol-Wisniewski says that some comments have been vile but others are hospitable

Parish Clerk Alison Sutton said the village had many people from other countries living harmoniously in a large rural parish.

She describes the racist remark as an isolated comment "which, while misguided, was supposed to be a compliment about entrepreneurship and Emilia's hard work".

Change attitudes?

In April, a regular survey conducted by Ipsos Mori revealed that immigration was a source of concern for 11% of people – the lowest level since 2001.

In March, a previous Ipsos Mori survey conducted for BBC Crossing Divides revealed that British adults expressing positive opinions about the impact of immigration outnumbered those with negative opinions.


In Marden, 1,500 Eastern Europeans help to harvest 8,000 tons of fruit each year

The subject of immigration has not been a high priority in the last European elections.

It may be because political parties have recognized how much anxiety has been diminishing.

So, what happened? While the Brexit debate has highlighted the cultural uneasiness of communities unaccustomed to foreigners, the change in attitude has been even more marked in the opposite direction.

As the arrivals of the past 15 years have been integrated, general concerns about immigration have calmed down.

The hostility is dying

Police reported an outbreak of racial hate crimes in Herefordshire, and in 2012 and 2013, the Welcome to Hereford signs were erased to indicate "Poland".

Marden is also home to the largest strawberry producer in the UK, S & A Produce, which employs more than 1,500 Eastern Europeans to harvest 8,000 tonnes of fruit each year.

Migrant workers in Marden are housed in a caravan park behind high hedges, but efforts are now being made to encourage integration with the local community.


Migrant workers live in a caravan park but are encouraged to integrate

"We should start to see people as guest workers rather than as economic migrants because, as guests of our company, they contribute to our success and that of the community," said Peter Judge, Director general of the group.

"We are looking to hire our staff to help local communities.Our workers have renovated a cricket pavilion and they volunteered to do so freely because they attach importance to being part of the community. ;a community."

The strawberry invited a local English teacher, Hugh Morris, to help migrant workers integrate into the British way of life.

"I feel that there is a turning point where we have become more accepting," suggests Hugh.

"We equate Eastern European workers with the community and it is important that this continue.In the beginning there was a lot of hostility but now it has gone out . "


Hugh Morris, English teacher, states that the initial hostility towards migrant workers is disappearing

The Hereford Council also decided to take steps to reduce local anxiety towards EU migrants. He recently established a twinning relationship with the Polish city of Jaworzno and collaborates with local schools to remind his residents that many Polish soldiers had lived in the area during the Second World War.

"We think it's really important to maintain this friendship and this bond because we live in a time of uncertainty where no one knows what will happen," said Mayor Kath Hey. "The little things we can do in the city promote that true sense of community."


The Polish service staff was stationed in Herefordshire in the 1940s.

This sense of shared community is essential to reduce tensions.

If foreigners manage to assimilate, they will remain strangers.

This is why the government plans to ask all high-income migrants to leave less than a year after their arrival, making it unlikely that foreigners will be able to take root and integrate.

The lesson from Herefordshire is that the key to cohesion is that people from all walks of life meet and mix.