Sofia/London. Picture: AFP
Many of the Bulgarians living in the UK will return home because they will not be able to meet the requirements. This is what Nishan Dzhingozyan, founder of Bulgarian Centre for Social Integration and Culture in London, said in Focus Radio’s Red Line broadcast
. He explained that next year EU citizens living in the UK, including Bulgarians, will have to apply for a new legal status because of Brexit. Nishan Dzhingozyan commented that the return of Bulgarians implied consequences for both the UK and Bulgaria. “Over 60% of Bulgarians in the UK work in the services sector – hotels, restaurants. Their potential return to Bulgaria will have an impact on the UK, but also on Bulgaria. Imagine a wave of 10, 20 or 50 thousand Bulgarians returning to Bulgaria because they cannot stay in the UK. First, this means a significant reduction in the remittances from the UK to Bulgaria. On the other hand, this means burden for the social system of Bulgaria. For example, if 10,000 citizens return to Sofia, they will apply for job, GP, home. I predict that a large wave of people will return because they will not be able to meet the requirements,” said Dzhingozyan. According to him, there are several problems for Bulgarian citizens in the UK: lack of language skills, lack of or insufficient digital skills, inability to present the required documents, as well as lack of information about the very procedure. In his words, those who could not meet the criteria are mainly seasonal or low-paid workers, people with low education or those working without a contract, Bulgarian citizens who cannot prove their stay because they are not registered, as well as pensioners who live with their children in the UK but are not registered and could not prove having lived there for the last 5 years. “Therefore our number one priority is an information campaign to explain to Bulgarian citizens that they must apply. This information campaign should start from Bulgaria, too,” said Dzhingozyan. He thanked institutions in London that are actively working to promote the campaign. “I would like to thank the EC headquarters in London, they are very friendly to us, helping us. We have launched a joint information campaign, but without their support we would not do well. Thanks to Kate Osamor and Joan Ryan – MPs for Enfield, in that part of London where our organisation is based. Also, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who launched a major campaign in support of EU citizens living in London. The campaign is also led in Bulgarian, all over London there are posters and stuff in Bulgarian that explain citizens’ rights after Brexit. I also thank Joanne McCartney, she is Deputy Mayor of London in charge of integration programmes, as well as the entire Labour Party leadership in Enfield. Thanks to Cllr. Nneka Keazor, who is in charge of social integration, to Cllr. Yasemin Brett and Cllr. Nesil Caliskan. The support of Enfield Mayor Saray Karakus is also very important to us. We are also working with 6 schools in Enfield, where over 55% of children are from Bulgaria – we have launched an information campaign with them with the support of UK national organisation The Law Centres Network, who have provided information on the procedure. We are enjoying fruitful support from both the local city hall and a number of institutions in the UK,” said Nishan Dzhingozyan.
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