Brexit Testimonies

29 September 2017

Lin in Bretagne

"So I fight. The cancer hasn’t got me yet. I escaped the fire. I fought the bacteria of pneumonia. I won’t let Brexit break me!"

My Home is in a small commune—only 20 or so maisons. I bought my maison in 2004 as a shell and intended to move full time once renovations were complete. But it took longer and more money; life got in the way. We are multinational here; 7 languages spoken; nationalities: Dutch, Tunisian, German, Spanish, French and Brit. We all get on, we all support one another.

After 30 years in the construction industry in the UK, my career ended in 2010 due to the crash. As soon as my neighbors found out, boxes of food appeared on my doorstep, my French neighbour said, ‘You much come home to stay now’. I tried to stay in the UK for interviews etc., but DWP wouldn’t support me as I had a foreign asset! I refused to sign over my home here to them, so became homeless in the UK. Once my redundancy money was used up I decided to cut all ties with the country I used to call Home.

My UK friends were concerned as I’m disabled … I don’t like the term; I’m just me! I have partial hearing with related issues, autism, aspergers etc. and I was born with arthritis. But this has not and never will stop me. Yes, language could be an issue but unlike ‘normal’ people, I’m used to not understanding or being misunderstood. So I try harder than most to communicate, lip read, etc. My spoken French is not bad and my ears play up in any language including English. So I don’t see the issue as a problem and neither do my neighbors. I’m involved in commune events, feel part of a real community, not a faceless singleton in an English town where neighbors never speak.  

I set myself up as a gardener. All was going well. More than enough work and money to live on. But in 2013, I found a lump, cancer. My locals were amazing; so supportive. 2014 was all treatment, in a great hospital and wonderful medical support. I had two medical emergenices; my French neighbour was there on hand to help. But I was going to restart my life!

Just got back to work doing light duties … 2015 and had a big house fire. Again, I shouldn’t have survived. Again the locals were amazing—food, clothes and a whip around. I spent the next year sorting the housing, working when I could and when my body allowed. But 2016 I was back in hospital, this time with critical pneumonia. I came out of hospital and turned on TV to see David Cameron fix the date for the Referendum. Told myself they wouldn’t be so stupid.

I finally moved back to my maison. I had a special new friend coming—Bertie, my little rescue dog. He sat with me the night of that Referendum. We didn’t go to bed. He jumped up on my lap as I sobbed uncontrollably. After 20 years of planning. After all the trauma of the last few years to see it all taken away. If not for Bertie …

I’m still on cancer treatment but can only work a few hours. Due to Brexit, I can’t get help from RSA/CFA but I’m fortunate enough to be supported by charities. But my Home here is now at risk if Brexit happens. So I’m fighting in every way I can. No, not self-interest! I won’t live long enough to see this mess sorted.

My dad was one of the ‘Little ships’ at Dunkirk. I’m glad he is no longer alive to see what has been done. 70 years of peace at risk. And for the young who couldn’t vote and those yet to be born? I want them all to have the same chances I had. I want them to live in peace in Europe as I have.

So I fight. The cancer hasn’t got me yet. I escaped the fire. I fought the bacteria of pneumonia. I won’t let Brexit break me! If the worst happens I may lose my healthcare, my right to work, my right to reside. I may have to change my plans. BUT I’M NOT GOING BACK! There is nothing there for me. The love and support I have had since being here through it all would never have happened in the UK!

I no longer recognise the country of my birth. Most of the time I’m ashamed of being a Brit and feel I have to apologise for the untruths that come out of that place. So I’m doing my bit; I support and offer help to those who are trying so hard like Kalba Meadows, Sarah Parkes and others for #citizensrights #stopbrexit #strongertogether.

Earlier testimony
Will in France
Later testimony
Chloe in Finland
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