Video: Case History - Elisa Alves
CASE HISTORY Name: Elisa Alves. Age: 57. Work: owns 25 Abril, a Portuguese and Polish delicatessen on Soham High Street and is a qualified IT consultant. Arrived in Britain: 15 years ago from the Algarve, she now owns her own business and is a qualified
Name: Elisa Alves.
Work: owns 25 Abril, a Portuguese and Polish delicatessen on Soham High Street and is a qualified IT consultant.
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Arrived in Britain: 15 years ago from the Algarve, she now owns her own business and is a qualified IT consultant.
WHEN Mrs Alves first arrived in Soham, she spoke no English. Her first job was at Turners in Fordham where she worked her way up to the position of supervisor. She later joined Gs Marketing near Soham where she worked as a translator for the new arrivals, and often took younger Portuguese workers into her home at Stuntney, giving them food, shelter and advice.
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"I have heard some horrible stories," she says, "but I am very happy here. I have found peace, respect and a second home.
"Whenever I needed help I received it, from the council and from my work. The only thing I have had a problem with is the surgery (healthcare). I was very poorly for nine months with a bone in my neck, so I went back to Portugal to try to get an operation."
She is scathing about the idea that young male immigrants are a source of trouble and says English people should look closer to home.
"Some of the young people that come here had problems in their own country so they will have problems here. A lot of them have a problem with drugs, not so much alcohol. But there are also a lot of problems here, with English girls and alcohol, and with people who are too young to drink. They come down here on Friday nights [Soham High Street] and cause trouble. If their parents don't look after them it will always happen."
"I have never had any racism here, she added "Somebody broke my window two weeks ago, but it's just kids. Some people say I am too friendly but I like it here and I have many English friends now."
Mrs Alves works two jobs, in IT overnight, and in her shop during the afternoon, and did three jobs back home in Portugal. A happy and bubbly character, she has built up a business which employs her daughter, son and daughter-in-law, who all joined her a few years after she had settled in the UK.
"I pay my taxes, I am going to rent the shop out, my daughter has just finished her GCSEs, and we are happy here," she added.