A hard-hitting film warning economic migrants of the dangers of coming to the UK without appropriate support in place was recently released by The Passage, a charity helping homeless people.
The three-minute movie depicts true life stories of migrants, stating key messages those considering moving to the UK must heed to avoid the perils others have encountered. One perturbing illustration shows a young Polish man called Jacek who loses his job after a workplace injury and then ends up as a homeless alcoholic. He is then mugged before being set alight in a sleeping bag. The video also includes a success story of someone who has done well in the UK, but his wife does go on to tell of her unhappy experience, being ripped off by an unscrupulous landlord who took all her savings. The ostensible message is be prepared - have a plan, speak English, have a legitimate job and accommodation and enough money in your pocket to cope with setbacks.
Mike Clarke from the charity told Sky News: "The video doesn't say, 'don't come'. It says, 'It is important - if you do come, it is important that it is a success'." However, the flavour is downbeat and hardly representative. Any Polish mother seeing the film will have sleepless nights if her children are contemplating coming to the UK to work and be left with an unattractive image of this country.
The video campaign is currently being distributed in Poland and is supported by both the British and Polish governments. It brings to mind the reports in national newspapers in January that officials were considering an advertising campaign in Romania and Bulgaria to discourage would-be immigrants by talking down the UK. In the event the campaign never materialised.
Whilst urging immigrants to be prepared and take sensible steps before moving to the UK cannot of itself be faulted, the scare tactics are questionable and the apparent readiness of those in authority to 'diss' the UK for political ends - something that began with the "broken Britain" campaign - is deeply unattractive. By all means tell would-be immigrants that there are risks as well as opportunities in coming to the UK, but do it sensibly and get the balance right.