Starting a new life in Scotland

This is a story told by a young Filipino migrant who came to work in the Scottish health and care sector like so many migrant workers from abroad. She chose to remain anonymous. In her blog, she shares some experiences of difficulties she faced during her years in Scotland, more specifically at one of her workplaces.

by Anonymous

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The year was 2000. The place, the Philippines. Life was ok, I had a good job, good family support but it wasn’t enough. Most of my pals were leaving the country to a place they called the UK.

They told me that life over there was rosy, so I was tempted, and when there were British personnel hiring Filipino nurses to live and work in the UK with a promise of a better income, better working conditions, a better life…..well, what more could I ask for? Without further ado, I was scheduled to fly to the UK and start a new life in the summer of 2000.

Everything was of course new to me from the moment we landed at Heathrow airport, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I smelled the usual polluted air you get in a city with the exception that this one was cooler, and that was enough to make me happy. At last, I was in the UK, ready to make the promised new and better life.

I was sent to a bus station to get the bus that would eventually take me to the Highlands. I was told that from there someone would pick me up and take me further up the Highlands. Yes, what a very long journey, but I enjoyed it except the bits that I couldn’t see anything because I travelled on an overnight bus to the Highlands. Life in the Highlands was hard at first, the job was back breaking, the food awful and the language a bit difficult to understand but eventually I got the hang of it and life was good.

It didn’t last long, I was moved to the Grampian region and life was challenging. After a couple of years I was again transferred to the Lanarkshire area and what an awakening. Apart from a totally different attitude and character of people I was working with, it appeared as if it wasn’t a friendly place at all. I just got on with my job and hoped everything would be ok but to no avail.

It was when I worked in this particular nursing home that the ‘fun’ began. I had been working as a senior sister for nearly three years when I was accused by some colleagues of physically abusing a resident. I felt that my world fell apart. I was so low that I didn’t want to exist anymore. An inquiry into the issue was initiated, and I was threatened and told that it could be a police matter.

I was a mess. The particular resident that I was accused of abusing was actually a very abusive and aggressive person, but that was due to his condition. The fact that almost every staff in that nursing home including the manager and deputy manager had experienced being hit, punched, spat at, kicked etc. did not seem to count as well as the fact that I had never abused the resident.

I owe a lot to my dear friend who has a lot of experience and knowledge about this kind of situation, not to mention that she is also a migrant. Had it not been for her, I don’t know where I would be today. She helped me unconditionally. She helped me relax, think straight, which was a very hard thing to do, considering I was panicking and thinking I was going to lose my job, I was going to lose my livelihood, I was going to lose my sanity.

She taught me how to go about my case and be honest but firm about it. She made me remember every minute detail of what really happened on that day in question. I had to remember what I did when, where, and with whom. It was a challenge to me but as soon as I had the basic structure of my case, the rest fell into place. Just as well I now keep a diary all the time. And this is a good advice to everyone who is reading my story. Always keep a diary. I used to say, it will not happen to me, it always happens to anyone but me, but unfortunately, we know this is not true.

Fair enough, I was represented by a union shop steward, but she was certain I was going to lose my case and I was already guilty in her eyes, just like to the people in my workplace. When she learnt that I am friendly with a migrant person who has a higher position and more knowledge than her within the union, I had the impression that she felt quite threatened, but then my pal taught me how to go about her, and what a transformation. As soon as I reassured her and told her that my friend told me to trust her because she knows her stuff, she completely changed… for the better. In the end, I won my case and the allegations were proved wrong.

After all that happened it seems to me that the persons that accused me just could not or would not accept the fact that I am their senior. So they decided to do something that way, so that I would lose my registration and eventually go back to my country of origin. To this date, I would really like to know why this is the case.