New report shows how Wisbech is bearing the brunt of mass immigration and the strain it places on health, housing and education.

PUBLISHED: 14:29 11 August 2016 | UPDATED: 14:29 11 August 2016

Flashback to police  action as part of Operation Pheasant which has clamped down on exploitation of migrants and their familes

Flashback to police action as part of Operation Pheasant which has clamped down on exploitation of migrants and their familes

Archant

A new report shows not only how Wisbech is bearing the brunt of mass immigration but also the strain it places on health, housing and education.

A new report shows not only how Wisbech is bearing the brunt of mass immigration but also the strain it places on health, housing and education.

The ‘Migrant and Refugee Needs Assessment for Cambridgeshire, 2016” reveals numbers arriving in Fenland quadrupled in the last 10 years.

Wisbech has five of Cambridgeshire’s 10 wards with the highest proportions of Eastern Europeans.

“The proportional increase in migration has been high in Fenland and Peterborough,” says the report.

“The rise in non-UK population was from 2,641 to 8,209 in Fenland and 15,268 to 37,892 in Peterborough between 2001 and 2011.”

Fenland has seen much higher levels of recent migration than any other areas of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough; 73 per cent of migrants in Fenland arrived within the past 10 years, and 43 per cent in the last five years.

But the challenges don’t stop there – new migrant GP registrations in Fenland – and mainly Wisbech – increased by a staggering 113.5 per cent from 585 in 2003.4 to 1,249 in 2013/14.

But figures show that more migrant national insurance number registrations have taken place in Fenland than migrant GP registrations, suggesting a relatively high number of migrants may arrive to work without registering with a doctor.

Language, too, is an issue with 1,052 in Fenland – that’s 8.6 per cent of the population- speaking an Eastern European language compared to just 3.8 per cent across the whole of Cambridgeshire. In Fenland more than half these number speak Lithuanian- and that impacts directly on schools.

“The needs of Eastern European pupils in secondary school education have been identified as complex,” says the report.

“Communication with parents can be problematic due to poor English skills and poor overall literacy skills.

“Translators are required in schools to communicate effectively with parents. Parents often work unsocial hours and may not be available to attend meetings at the school.

“Some migrant pupils in the Wisbech area are from single parent families and may be living in houses of multiple occupation with several other families. Pupils often arrive to join a school throughout the school year and may have anxiety problems.”

Other issues identified in the report include excessive rates of smoking and alcohol consumption among eastern Europeans – and the challenges that presents to health. But the report also suggests the culture of street drinking found among Eastern Europeans is “a way of life” and can create community tensions.

Street drinking by Eastern European people in Wisbech has been reported as an issue by the local community and is affecting community cohesion. The Wisbech Alcohol Partnership has carried out some engagement work to assess the issues relating to street drinking and identified 72 people in Wisbech town centre who drink in the open area. Most of these people were Eastern European working males of Lithuanian or Latvian origin with a diverse age range (mid 20s to 50 year olds).

Dental care among migrants is also poor, says the report, with many presenting “high levels of untreated decay when they seek treatment”.

Migrants may have more complex healthcare needs than the UK population, influenced by not only language and cultural differences but also the burden of disease and living conditions in their country of origin, experiences during migration, their circumstances in the UK and other factors relating to ethnicity and cultural practices. Recent studies have found that the majority of migrants are young and healthy on arrival, but their health – particularly their mental health – declines

There were 2,120 clients in drug and alcohol treatment in 2014/15. Of these, 42 or six per cent were from A8 Eastern European countries and 60 per cent of the Eastern European clients were in the Fenland area.

Recommendations include boosting advice services, reviewing the GP system, and using schools to help boost social cohesion and delivering welcome packs to new arrivals.

1 comment

  • How about a report that tells us something we didn't already know? The figures and percentages are all at least two years old - do we think the situation has improved or even slowed down since then? Vote with your feet and move west - this town has had it.

    Report this comment

    GaryWisbech

    Friday, August 12, 2016

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