Moving and uplifting. A rare example of a media report that doesn’t present the working class and immigrants as beasts but shows humanity at its best.
See also the feature that ran in G2 last week, about efforts to stop dawn raids at the Kingsway estate, which disrupts the convenient narrative of racist, anti-immigrant working class white people.
But when hundreds of asylum seekers were placed there to live – often for years – while their cases were processed, they were warmly embraced. “We had been really going downhill – a lot of antisocial families were being put here. But after a year of the asylum seekers coming, the atmosphere became completely different,” Donnachie says. “These people couldn’t do enough for you, and I thought this was wonderful – it was like going back to when I was a child and you could leave the key in the door and if you needed help someone would come round.”
The estate became home for hundreds of families escaping persecution and torture in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Uganda and Congo. Most had their request for asylum in the UK turned down, and when the Home Office began coming to the estate at 5am to remove them, Donnachie and the rest of the residents looked on in horror. “It was like watching the Gestapo – men with armour, going in to flats with battering rams. I’ve never seen people living in fear like it,” says Donnachie. “I saw a man jump from two storeys up when they came for him and his family. I stood there and I cried, and I said to myself, ‘I am not going to stand by and watch this happen again.'”