When I think back to my childhood, I remember big family dinners outside in the sun. Uncles and aunts that weren’t really uncles and aunts, amazing home-cooked food being prepared, and the smell of cigars being smoked nearby, as my grandfather sat and looked on in his three-piece suit. He would always wear a three-piece suit. Some for special occasions, some for gardening, and even some for prepping meat in the smokehouse he built down the end of the garden. If you’re picturing scenes from The Godfather, then you’re not far off. This was typical for a Cypriot family get-together, and typical for my upbringing.
My grandparents moved from Cyprus in 1951 and made a life for themselves in Hastings. There was often talk of politics as they worked closely with the socialist party of the time. My great-grandfather, Costa Kalopsidiotis, was involved in supporting immigrants who were fleeing their countries as well as hiding Jewish families during WWII.
When I was growing up, my parents housed a family of Albanians who fled their own country to save the lives of their four very young children – the eldest being seven, the youngest, a baby of 12 weeks. These memories continue to have an impact on my beliefs and attitudes, and this is something I admire my parents and generations before them, greatly for.
But as we move into 2022, I wonder and I worry about how generous acts, such as these, would be perceived now.
As I type this, our government is making it easier than ever to deport and harder than ever to appeal. As I type this, thousands of families are living in fear that they will have their citizenships stripped without warning. As I type this, lifeboats are being blocked on the beaches as they try to save refugees who attempt to cross the channel.
These are just a few of the Orwellian policies contained in the new Nationality and Borders Bill that was recently passed in Parliament.
We live in a confusing time, people are more divided than ever, and people are scared. It is exactly times like these that the most devastating movements thrive, intensify and pick up pace under the veil of ‘National Security’ and other such sleight of hand tactics.