2: The Town, the Street, the House and the Advice Charity

In this chapter, the authors contextualize the research, discussing the Town (Great Yarmouth) in which the study was conducted, the socioeconomic context of the Town and the history of migration to the Town – from the postwar Greek Cypriot migration to the large Portuguese migration then the Portuguese diasporic migration, the EU8 migration, mainly from Lithuania and Latvia and, finally, the EU2 migration by the Romanian and Bulgarian populations. They then consider the Street in which the House of the research is located. The picture is of considerable deprivation. The authors discuss the House itself conditions and introduce its eight occupants – all EU nationals. They also consider the work of GYROS within the community advice sector. The lens of the House, the Street, the Town provides unique insights into the everyday lives of EU nationals living in Great Yarmouth, adding depth to GYROS’ longitudinal data.

A. Introduction

In this chapter, we describe the House, the Street and the Town of our research. We do this to paint a picture of the environment EU migrant workers encounter when they first arrived in the UK and the context in which they now work, live and socialize. As noted in Chapter 1, legal geographers say that ‘nearly every aspect of law is located, takes place, is in motion, or has some spatial frame of reference’.1 So, we describe the Town (Great Yarmouth), the Street (St Peter’s Road) and the House (an HMO just off St Peter’s Road) where we examine how the law – EU law, Withdrawal Agreement law and UK domestic law – plays out.

The lens of the House, the Street, the Town gives us unique insights into the everyday lives of EU nationals living in Great Yarmouth. These insights sit alongside and add depth to the data obtained through our analysis of the GYROS dataset and our interviews. What stands out vividly from our data is EU migrant workers’ precarity – of work, of income, of tenancies – often exacerbated by poor English language and IT skills, lack of awareness of how UK systems work and, sometimes, uncertain immigration status. Our data also show the multiple problems experienced by this group, many of whom turn to GYROS for help. In Section E, we look in some detail at GYROS, the frontline advice charity which has been central in our research, considering what it is and what it does, together with its source of funding. We locate GYROS in the broader context of the community advice sector.

We begin, however, by looking at Great Yarmouth, particularly its socioeconomic situation, before considering the different phases of migration to the Town (Section B). We move on to look at the Street (Section C) and then consider in more detail the House, including its layout and how it is organized. We also meet its eight residents (all Lithuanian and Latvian citizens), Frank,2 the landlord, and Edita, a former tenant (Section D). Their stories and experiences are woven into later chapters.

B. The Town

1. Introduction

Great Yarmouth is a coastal market town and port in Norfolk, in the East of England. It is a town with Roman and Saxon settlement origins.3 Fishing became a key industry in the Town in the 19th century: Great Yarmouth was the world’s leading herring fishing port, with the Town’s smokehouses producing bloaters. During the fishing season, ‘the town’s population would be swelled by thousands – by fishermen, their wives and daughters (known as ‘herring girls’4) who gutted and pickled the fish, and the coopers to make the barrels the fish were transported in’.5 This was an early example of (temporary) migration to the Town.

With the first railway arriving in 1844, Great Yarmouth’s fame as a seaside tourist attraction and holiday destination spread. This brought further economic prosperity and indeed ‘the early 20th century was a boom time for Great Yarmouth’.6 Travelling celebrity acts performed at the Great Yarmouth Pavilion and international circus acts at the Hippodrome, a purpose-built circus building with a sunken pool under the main stage, which is still fully operational today.7 Residents remember, during their childhood, seeing elephants being ‘walked’ on the beach.8 Houdini, Charlie Chaplin and the Beatles all performed in the Town. Authors visited too: most famously, Charles Dickens stayed in the Town in 1849, and Peggotty in David Copperfield (published in 1850) comes from the Town.

However, this prosperity was not to last. As a port on the east coast, Great Yarmouth suffered badly in both world wars. In the First World War, Great Yarmouth experienced the first civilian casualties in the country (two residents who had gone into the street to catch sight of the Zeppelin overhead). The Street of this book, then called St Peter’s Plain, was hit by Zeppelin raids with ‘not a single building escaping damage’.9 In the Second World War, the famous ‘Rows’, 145 narrow lanes with houses packed closely together, were seriously damaged.10 The narrowest, Kittywitches Row, just 27 inches wide, was destroyed by enemy aircraft in 1942.11 By 1945, 20,000 properties in Great Yarmouth had been destroyed or damaged and 217 people had been killed.12

Lots of housing, often of poor quality, was rapidly erected in the immediate postwar period, and this is still inhabited today. A substantial storm hit the East of England in 1953 and Great Yarmouth was particularly affected by the flooding. Ten people died and over 3,500 houses were directly affected.13 Meanwhile, largely due to overfishing, the herring industry fell into decline. Tourism also suffered and that decline became acute in the 1970s following the expansion of package holidays to the sun in Spain and Italy. Once-flourishing bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and hotels in Victorian and Edwardian villas in the Town struggled for business.14 Many, including the House of this book, have been turned into HMOs, now lived in by EU migrant workers (see Section D).

2. Socioeconomic context of the Town

Today, Great Yarmouth experiences very high levels of deprivation. Thirteen of its neighbourhoods are ranked in the top 10 per cent of areas of relative deprivation nationally, with some central wards listed among the most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK.15 Among working-age residents, 20 per cent are in receipt of at least one out-of-work benefit. In some urban areas such as Central Northgate and Nelson, this figure is more than 55 per cent.16 The proportion of residents aged 16–64 years who claim benefits/Universal Credit is almost double the national average.17 The average income in Great Yarmouth is £23,600, which compares unfavourably with areas just ten kilometres inland where the average is £33,800.18 Some 17 per cent of households experience fuel poverty (this goes to up 25 per cent in the Nelson ward19), compared with 15.6 per cent in Norfolk as a whole and 13.2 per cent in England.20 In the borough of Great Yarmouth, which includes the Town and surrounding villages, 20 per cent of children are living in low-income families21 (24.4 per cent in the Nelson ward) compared with 12.0 per cent in Norfolk and 14.7 per cent in England.22 Residents in the Town also have low levels of educational attainment with 26.5 per cent having no formal qualifications, ranking sixth worst in the country.23 Similarly, the Town was the lowest ranked in England and Wales for residents with Education Level 424 or above, with only 18.2 per cent of residents holding a university-level qualification.25

Research shows that the towns already experiencing deprivation were hit the hardest by the UK’s austerity policy, and seaside towns like Great Yarmouth were particularly badly affected.26 Beatty and Fothergill show a £610 loss per resident (working-age adult) in Great Yarmouth (2014–2015).27 Funding for community development programmes almost entirely dried up after 2010, meaning support for those most deprived and affected by the cuts was lost.28 Great Yarmouth was one of the pilot areas for the rollout of Universal Credit in 2014/2015. As we will discuss in Chapter 6, the impact of delays with payments and various problems with the new system had a serious impact on residents; foodbank usage in the Town increased by 200 per cent at that time.29

Employment is a particular issue in Great Yarmouth (see Chapter 4) since much of the work is seasonal: tourism in the summer months and turkey processing in winter. Those who do earn higher wages tend to live in the nearest city, Norwich, commuting in and out each day.30 In addition, Great Yarmouth is poorly served by transport connections. There are no motorways in Norfolk (it is often said that the nearest motorway to the Town is in the Netherlands). A single arterial road, the nine-mile single carriageway Acle Straight, serves the Town and this is often jammed. All this adds to a sense of the Town being remote.

3. Phases of migration to the Town

3.1 Earlier migration to the Town

As we have seen, there is a long history of migration to the Town, including the Scottish ‘herring girls’ up to the 1950s. This was followed by Greek Cypriots in the postwar period whose arrival was viewed, at least with hindsight, as adding ‘a welcome diversity to the modern town’.31 The Socratous family ‘established the Rainbow Corner and Café Au Lait restaurants in 1947, and Loucas Chryssafi who set up the Savoy restaurant in the 1950s’.32 In 1967, the Church of England entrusted St Peter’s Church (on the Street) to the growing Greek Orthodox community. The church, now dedicated to Saint Spyridon,33 hosts a Greek and Greek Cypriot mass every week and community coffee mornings and other events, as well as running a Greek school for young children.34

A different type of migration occurred in the late 1990s and very early 2000s: given the availability of cheap accommodation, Great Yarmouth became a dispersal area for London boroughs looking to relocate asylum seekers – predominantly from Kosovo but also from Russia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Turkey, Afghanistan and Macedonia.35 One previous asylum seeker said: “When we came, there were three rundown B&Bs filled with asylum seekers. And we were literally the only non-White population in Great Yarmouth.”36 She says she and her husband were put on a train in London to take them to Great Yarmouth, but they had no idea where in England that was.

The placing of vulnerable asylum seekers in the Town, without any wraparound support, prompted some community members to set up the charity GYROS in 1998.37 GYROS has been working to support ‘newcomers’ to the Town ever since, now primarily EU migrants but also more recently other newly arrived asylum seekers. It is the charity we have been working with (Section E).

3.2 Portuguese migration to the Town

For some time following the UK’s accession to the EU, there was little migration to and from the UK under the free movement rules, particularly Article 45 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on free movement of workers and Article 49 TFEU on freedom of establishment (see Chapter 3). This changed with the accession of Portugal to the EU in 1986. Local employers looking for farm and factory workers saw Portugal as an important source of labour. This recruitment ‘coincided with a negative cycle in the Portuguese economy that started in 2001’.38 The poultry producer Bernard Matthews opened recruitment offices in Lisbon due to its ‘satisfaction with established Portuguese employees, Portugal’s EU status and its high unemployment’.39 The company offered workers ‘a good salary, transport and accommodation’.40 It even hired a housing officer to support employees moving into B&B accommodation in towns such as Great Yarmouth.41

Unlike some of the later Eastern European communities, those migrating from Portugal tended to have relatively low standards of education and skills, including English language skills.42 Bernard Matthews ensured ‘all company literature is published in English and Portuguese. The company also organised language courses for Portuguese workers to learn English and for other nationalities to learn Portuguese.’43 However, the GYROS data still shows significant demand for English language support for their Portuguese clients.44

It was not just Portuguese citizens coming from Portugal; the citizens of a number of African, South American and Southeast Asian countries with Portuguese nationality have exercised free movement rights too.45 Some have never lived in Portugal, as was the case with Rosa, an East Timorese Portuguese national who came to the UK and found employment as a care worker (Box 2.1). The ‘Portuguese’ community, given the diversity of sending countries, is therefore not one homogenous group within Great Yarmouth. Nationals from each Lusophone country bring their own language, dialect, culture, heritage, customs and practices. This raises a number of different issues, including health-related issues. For example, the local James Paget Hospital appointed a specialist in female genital mutilation (FGM)46 following the arrival of Portuguese nationals from countries in which FGM is practised.47

Box 2.1: Rosa’s story

Rosa is an East Timorese Portuguese national. She and her family survived civil war in East Timor, though their lives were badly affected by it and the family was divided, with some living in Indonesia while Rosa, her mother and brother lived in East Timor. When she was 19, she was invited by the school priest at her Catholic boarding school to study theology in the Philippines. From the Philippines, she travelled to Italy to become a nun. She studied for four years before deciding to work as a carer. At this point, her mother’s cousin contacted her to ask if she would like to come to England. She travelled to Portugal, though only to organize her passport before flying to London Stansted Airport. Her cousin’s friend met her at Stansted, using photographs to recognize each other as they had not met previously. They travelled together by bus to Great Yarmouth. Rosa has lived in Great Yarmouth for over ten years now, and she met her husband (also East Timorese) in the Town. They now have two children. Rosa speaks Tetum (an East Timorese language), Portuguese, Italian and now English. When she first arrived in Great Yarmouth, she worked as a care worker.

There is an unspoken hierarchy within the Portuguese community in Great Yarmouth. Mariana, a Mozambican Portuguese national, said that “there is always this idea, of [Portuguese] being better”. She said that the East Timorese community can be seen as “not really Portuguese – they just have the passport. Because they don’t even speak Portuguese.”48 This can lead to discrimination from within the nationality group. Mariana described the discrimination and abuse her family experienced from the Portuguese community when they first arrived in Lisbon after fleeing civil war in Mozambique.49

Within the county of Norfolk, 42 per cent of all Portuguese nationals who applied for EUSS status live in Great Yarmouth.50 The Town has the highest percentage (32 per cent) of Portuguese nationality applications (relative to total applications) for the EUSS of any local authority area in the country.51 The long-term impact of this Portuguese presence can be readily observed in Great Yarmouth, which now has numerous Portuguese cafes, restaurants, festivals, community groups and supermarkets. The cafes and supermarkets act as meeting points for the local Portuguese community. There is little evidence of cross-community involvement in these cafes (that is, neither Great Yarmouth locals nor other non-Portuguese nationals go to the cafes). Abranches et al note that Portuguese nationals often stand on the street, drinking coffee and smoking, and this creates fear, even among other migrant communities.52 This point is also made by the police (Section C).

A bar graph plots countries versus data.
Figure 2.1:
Country of birth (excluding United Kingdom) of residents in Great Yarmouth, 2021
Source: Census, 2021

3.3 Central and Eastern European migration to the Town

In 2004, the EU8 countries joined the EU, namely Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia (as well as Cyprus and Malta). While most EU member states introduced some form of restriction on their free movement until 2011, Sweden, Ireland and the UK did not and this led to a significant number of these EU migrants coming to the UK and Ireland, mainly for work.53 According to Census data for 2021, in Great Yarmouth EU8 nationals represent the largest non-British group in the Town (Figure 2.1),54 while EUSS applications data for June 2023 suggests the Portuguese represent the largest incoming group (Figure 2.2).

Those moving from Central and Eastern European countries tended to be better educated. Many believed in the ‘any job, better job, dream job’ migration–employment trajectory in the UK.55 This meant they accepted jobs below their skills level when they first moved to the UK and then worked towards jobs more suited to their skills. For example, Lina gained a master’s degree in linguistics in Lithuania but came to the UK to work in a chicken factory. Her English teacher (also from Lithuania) worked as a cleaner in the factory while, at the same time, working towards another postgraduate degree in the UK so that she could find work as a teacher.

Our Lithuanian and Latvian interviewees described paying someone in their home country anything from £300 to £1,000 to help them move to the UK and find work. They would often be required to work off this debt after arrival in the UK. Like Darius (Box 1.1), they talk about being picked up in a van at Stansted and driven to Great Yarmouth, where they were placed in shared accommodation. In the House, Rasa, a Latvian woman in her sixties, said that on the night she arrived in the Town, she slept in the living room of a caravan with six other people – men and women – in the same clothes she had travelled in. At 4 am they were brought to the chicken factory to work. Her subsequent accommodation was a room in a ‘hotel’ shared with one other person (see chapters 4 and 5).

A bar chart is titled EUSS applications by nationality and plots countries versus data.
Figure 2.2:
Most numerous nationalities in applications to the EUSS from Great Yarmouth, June 2023
Source: EUSS Statistics https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/eu-settlement-scheme-statistics

Like the Portuguese nationals before them, the Central and Eastern European communities living in Great Yarmouth are now much more established than in 2004. There are a number of Polish and Lithuanian supermarkets and shops and a Lithuanian letting agent, and for a time there was a Polish language Catholic mass. Yet these communities still largely keep themselves to themselves, due in part to the long hours they work (see Chapter 4).

3.4 Romanian and Bulgarian migration to the Town

When Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, the UK placed transitional restrictions on free movement into the UK for these EU2 nationals;56 those restrictions ended in 2014. After that, Romanians became an important source of labour for local factories and farms, particularly Roma Romanians,57 mainly recruited in country by agencies. GYROS reports that of its total client group (covering Great Yarmouth and Ipswich, Suffolk) in 2021, about 6 per cent self-identified as Roma.58 This group experiences significant vulnerability, including literacy issues. The Roma Support Group says illiteracy within the Roma community affects as many as 1 in 5 people59 (with 3 in 5 ‘functionally illiterate’60), compared with 1 in 100 of their Romanian national counterparts.61 As one police officer said:

‘So, speaking to the management agency [which] brought the people over … [t]hey were basically saying because of Brexit looming, they couldn’t recruit from Lithuania, Portugal, and, actually, this is where they would normally go. So, they went to Romania, and engaged with a community that they hadn’t before, which was Romanian gypsies. That’s how they identified themselves. And so they brought them over and they are a very identifiable community. And their education level was below the workers we normally have, their grasp of English just below, their social skills were below because of how Romanian gypsies are treated within their own country. They don’t access education …. And what this gave us was a very identifiable new community within Great Yarmouth, who have their own cultural … identity.’62

Some of the issues raised by the arrival of Roma Romanians (and Bulgarians) in the Town are considered in Section 4.

As for Bulgarian workers, the two couples in our focus group said they had come to the UK following a call from a friend telling them there was work available through an agency operating in the Town centre. After they arrived, they were told they could receive a payment of £100 for each person they recruited from Bulgaria. Both couples were also Roma. Neither could read or write in their own language, let alone speak or write any English. They did not understand their contracts but had been told they had to work 48 hours per week (although they were on zero-hours contracts). They said they lived in accommodation with approximately 100 people, each couple sharing a small room; they shared bathroom and kitchen facilities with 10–14 people on their floor.63 They did not know how much their rent was, as it was taken directly from their pay, but they thought the room they shared cost approximately three hours’ work per week each.

As Figure 2.2 shows, in Great Yarmouth, Romanian nationals now constitute the second largest group (after Portuguese nationals) who have made applications for EUSS. This fits with the national picture, as Romanian nationals are now the group with the highest number of applications to the EUSS in the UK, with more than 1.5 million applications. The national figure for Bulgarian nationals is 421,870.64

4. Effect of migration on the Town

Census data for 2021 shows that outside of London, the East of England has had the highest increase (3.9 per cent) in residents not born in the UK.65 As we have noted, they came for work:66 employers in East Anglia needed workers in agriculture, especially for fruit picking and work in food processing, particularly poultry factories.67 These jobs entail labour-intensive, low-paid work with long, antisocial shifts. This is often agency work and (more recently) tends to be based on zero-hours contracts.68 Local people have not wanted this often short-term and low-paid work,69 and EU migrants have, up until Brexit, filled the gap.

Although the local communities and migrant communities lead separate – and largely segregated – lives, the arrival of large numbers of relatively poor EU migrants in a short space of time to a town already suffering significant deprivation added to the suspicion and hostility70 which predated both Brexit and the referendum.71 There were concerns among local people that already pressed public services would be spread even more thinly and that the identity of the Town was changing.72 The Roma Romanian community was a particular source of concern for local people.73 The local police cited an incident where banks reported that people were huddled around a cash machine but only one person was obtaining cash. This created suspicion, aggravated by rumours of a child abduction that was circulating on social media at the time:

when we drilled down it was because of their maths and their English grasp, one person would know how to use the cash machine. So that one person was using multiple cards but obtaining the cash, and then we had … baby-snatching rumours going around in the communities, which was driven mainly on Facebook. And, I mean, and that was just bizarre, because we had no reported children stolen.74

The police said that the Roma community were very visibly spending time together in the streets and in the Town centre, and this made suspicion worse. This was explained in part by the fact that their accommodation had little, if any, social space where residents could meet (see Chapter 5).75

The local hostility to Romanian nationals is also seen at national level. Fox et al say that Romanians have ‘figured prominently in the public consciousness and (tabloid) media as objects of fear, scorn and contempt’ and, as a community, they have often borne the brunt of public anxiety over ‘East European’ migration.76 This reveals, in stark terms, the well-researched phenomenon of ‘desirable’ or ‘undesirable’ migrants.77 While Eastern Europeans and particularly Romanians fell into the ‘undesirable’ category, Greek Cypriots are (now) seen as desirable.78 For example, Abranches et al talk of William, a local government officer, who recalled the arrival of Greek Cypriots during the 1970s as a positive source of cultural diversity and economic incentive:

Near enough all the restaurants along the seafront were owned by Greek families and … no hassle, no trouble. … They brought the restaurants, they brought the gentlemen standing outside with the menus, you know …. They’ve brought lots of different skills to Great Yarmouth.79

The borough of Great Yarmouth had the fifth-highest Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum. Free movement was not the only reason for the vote to leave the EU, but as Goodwin and Milazzo suggest, it was an important one.80 The Brexit vote – and the UK government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda – has brought renewed focus on, and money to, the Town.81 The Venetian Waterways on the seafront (built in 1926) have been fully restored,82 the Winter Gardens (built in 1904), which are the UK’s only surviving winter gardens, are benefiting from a £10 million facelift,83 the BBC Concert Orchestra has taken up a three-year residence in the Town,84 Banksy left his footprint on the walls in summer 202185 and millions are being spent on the Market Place regeneration,86 a Third River Crossing87 and a new Marina Leisure Centre.88 Meanwhile, the Town is developing expertise in wind turbines, and this has brought higher-skilled EU migrants to Great Yarmouth,89 at least temporarily.90

An aerial view of Great Yarmouth and St Peter’s Road has a dense urban area with closely packed buildings and narrow winding roads.
Figure 2.3:

Aerial view of Great Yarmouth and St Peter’s Road

Note: The arrows, pointing to the road, were added by the authors.

Source: Copyright John Fielding Aerial Images (permission has been obtained from the photographer for use of this figure)

C. The Street

Having looked at the Town’s history of migration and socioeconomic profile, we turn now to St Peter’s Road, the Street of our research, where many EU migrant workers live in HMOs, like the House of our research, which is located just off the Street (see Section D). Situated at the heart of the Town, St Peter’s Road leads directly from the seafront to the South Quay (Figure 2.3). It hosts a number of businesses (European and Kurdish as well as British), cafes (Portuguese), mini supermarkets (Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, English), hairdressers, barbers, newsagents (there are five on this road alone), fast food shops – including a chicken takeaway, a Vietnamese restaurant, a Chinese takeaway and a fish and chip shop (Roger’s Fish and Chips, family owned since 1923) – some pubs, a primary school, a church (St Spyridon, mentioned in Section B.3.1 and visible in Figure 2.4), a betting shop, a letting agent (Lithuanian) and a brothel (English). There are a mix of houses, some privately owned but mainly rented accommodation, particularly HMOs.

A street scene featuring a building with dilapidated walls on the left, a parked car on the right, and a church in the background.
Figure 2.4:

St Peter’s Road with a view of St Spyridon

Source: image authors’ own
The layout of the Street, as well as its diverse mix of businesses and uses, has created problems. The police officer we interviewed said:

‘It’s a long straight road which lends itself to fast acceleration. A tight bend at the top lends itself to conflict. The parking at the top lends itself to more conflict. The shop at the top is open if not 24 hours, then it’s open late, which means there’s people coming and going early hours. We’ve got, dare I say it, a brothel on there, which isn’t technically a brothel, because there is only ever one girl in there, so it is not against the law … it’s not that busy any more.’

The officer also said that the seafront end is “inherently noisy because of the arcades”91 and that there is a “feeling of unsafety”, which was exacerbated by the fatal stabbing of a 23-year-old Portuguese man in broad daylight in February 2023.92 For some, St Peter’s Road is considered a ‘no-go’ area, especially at night. The police officer also said that local people feel unsafe in the Street when they cannot understand the languages being spoken and they see groups of EU nationals gathered together.93

St Peter’s Road sits within Nelson ward,94 which, together with Central and Northgate ward, has the highest density of housing95 and the highest proportion of rental properties in Great Yarmouth borough. Nelson is one of the most deprived wards in Great Yarmouth. Parts of Nelson rank as low as 39th worst of 32,844 wards in England in terms of deprivation.96 This deprivation affects residents’ life chances. For example, ‘life expectancy among men in Nelson ward is 71.6 years, while among men in the nearby village of Fleggburgh, also in the borough but the least deprived ward, it is 82.2 years’.97 Nelson ward also has higher levels of economically inactive residents, at 38.3 per cent compared with 31.9 per cent in Norfolk and 30 per cent in England.98 Some 46.4 per cent of residents aged 16–64 in Nelson are in receipt of Universal Credit (see Chapter 6), compared with 13.2 per cent in Norfolk and 14.3 per cent in England.99

The deprivation and poverty of the Street is not just a matter of comparative statistics. It is tangible in the crumbling facades of shops and houses (see Figure 2.4), the quantities of litter and discarded rubbish in doorways and on street corners, and the availability of bootleg cigarettes in the various newsagents and supermarkets.100 This poverty is in stark contrast to the development and superficial improvements happening just a stone’s throw away on the seafront (Section B.4). One community adviser described this as the “doughnut effect”.101 Money is invested into the new leisure centre and in the offshore wind energy economy and enterprise zones (the ring of the doughnut), while inner areas of Nelson (the hole in the centre of the doughnut) are ignored. He said that those living on St Peter’s Road cannot afford to use the new leisure centre and that the money from the offshore sector does not stay in the Town.

D. The House

We turn now to the House that was the setting for our ethnographic work, an HMO just off St Peter’s Road. The House itself dates from the 1860s and is a Grade II listed building (similar in style to the picture on the front cover).102 The House was registered as an HMO103 (at least five tenants lived there, forming more than one household and sharing a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants), licensed over a decade ago, although its life as a shared rented house predates this. The House is central to our project (the researcher lived there and interviewed its residents and the landlord) and, of course, to the lives of its residents.104 In this section, we describe the layout of the House and meet its residents (two couples and four individuals – all Lithuanian and Latvian nationals; Section 1). We also meet the landlord (Section 2).

1. The House and its residents

The House has three storeys. The ground floor had five rooms as well as an unused basement area, reached by a set of stairs, and an unfinished upstairs flat, reached via a back stairway, which had a cardboard sign saying ‘construction site, no unauthorised entry’. The rooms were set out as follows: a studio (Room 1), a workshop/junk room, a shared bathroom105 (Figure 2.5) and a communal laundry space. The House also had a guest room on the ground floor – an unusual feature for an HMO106 – allowing tenants to have friends and family (or indeed researchers) visit. The tenants took a previously unused room, cleared and painted it, and salvaged other furniture from around the House to turn it into a guest room that was available to all tenants and booked using a calendar which hung on the guest room door. This is a good example of a phenomenon witnessed elsewhere – tenants improving their space and ultimately the living conditions in the place where they live (see Chapter 5). Apart from the guest room there was no other communal space.107 The space by the back door was used as a smoking area, although the residents also smoked in their rooms, leaning out of the windows as they did so. Five of the eight residents were smokers.

A bathroom with a sink, a mirror, a bathtub, and a window has tiled walls with natural light streaming in through the window.
Figure 2.5:

Bathroom on the ground floor, shared by tenants in Rooms 1, 3 and 4

Source: image authors’ own

People in the House lived quite separate lives, mostly keeping to their own (locked) rooms while not at work. Adomas said: “in our situation, we have a separate flat. There is nothing we share. We just share the washing machines. It’s the only thing. We barely see them. All of them, they’re working.”

There was a single tenant (Ivo – male, fifties) living on the ground floor of the House, at the front, in a studio room with kitchen cupboards, a microwave and a kettle (Room 1). Ivo used the communal downstairs bathroom. On the first floor, there were two flats, one unfinished and in a state of disrepair (Figure 2.6) and the other occupied by a Lithuanian couple (Lina and Adomas, Room 2) and their cat. Lina (female, thirties) had lived in the House for more than three years and had been in the UK for more than five. Her partner, Adomas (thirties), had only recently joined the household (less than six months previously) after 11 years in the UK, having moved to Great Yarmouth from London after meeting Lina. Their flat had an en suite bathroom and separate kitchen/living area.

An unfinished flat with scattered construction materials, tools, and a plant on a stool near the window. A ladder leans against the wall.
Figure 2.6:

Unfinished flat on the first floor – Rasa (Room 3) has put one of her plants here for light

Source: image authors’ own

On the second floor, there was a self-contained studio room (Room 3), occupied by Camilla (female, fifties), a Lithuanian who had been in the UK for 16 years, and a flat (which we refer to as Room 4) with two rooms – a separate galley kitchen and a large bedroom/living room – occupied by Rasa (female, sixties), a Latvian who had been in the UK for 18 years. Rasa had lived in the House for ten years and Camilla for four years. Both women were single. Rasa and Camilla used the bathroom on the ground floor, sharing shower facilities with Ivo. However, in September 2021, they added a single toilet on their floor, with the help of Ivo, who had become the House handyman.108 Rasa had recently repainted and recarpeted both her rooms, and Rasa and Camilla had put slip-prevention carpet tiles on the wooden stairs when Camilla was injured after tripping. Rasa said that the improvements were paid for by the landlord. She kept all paint cans and other decorating items so that she could use what was left over. To paint over the black mould on her kitchen ceiling, she created a colour by mixing all the paint pots left in the workshop room. Her view was: “It’s better for me [and] it’s not magnolia anyway – everything in England is magnolia!”109 Edita noted the difference Rasa had made to the House since she moved in ten years earlier: “She’s really made that house look cosy. You know. It’s been a constant fight with Frank [the landlord] over it. Like, you know, it’s not that he doesn’t want to [make improvements] – I think he’s just too poorly and old, I guess.”

The top floor mirrored the layout of the floor below it. Vida (female, thirties), a Lithuanian tenant occupied a self-contained studio (which we call Room 5). She had lived in the UK, and the House, for less than two years, with a break in residency during the COVID-19 pandemic, when she returned to Lithuania. The final flat (which we call Room 6) contained two rooms – as on the lower floor, a galley kitchen and a large bedroom. This was occupied by a Latvian couple (Domantas – male, fifties; Terese – female, fifties) who had lived in the House for six years and had been in the UK for seven years. There was a shared toilet on this floor for the three residents on this level.

There was no Wi-Fi or central heating in the House. Residents relied on portable electric heaters. They shared laundry facilities – a single washing machine and a dryer, the latter being a more recent, and much-praised, addition. There was a bucket on top of the dryer to collect contributions of 50p per use.

The average age of residents in the House was 45, with ages ranging from 30 to over 60. One resident had pre-settled status; the rest had settled status. Residents’ view of their lives varied. Vida said: “My life is quite boring. Just working and living.” Domantas said: “I quite enjoy my life in Great Yarmouth – I have work, I have somewhere to live and I visit places on weekends to have a rest from work life. During the week, it does feel as if it is only work and home.” As we shall see later in the book, despite the poor condition of the House and the lack of facilities for residents, it was seen as a place of safety, and they feared being forced to leave if Frank was not able to accommodate them anymore.110

The researcher lived in the House for two months and was able to interview the residents and, to a limited degree, socialize with them. Given the importance of these interviews to our research, she was supported by Edita, a multilingual (English, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish, Russian speaker) former resident, who had lived in the House for ten years, having left in 2019. Edita was also interviewed about her experiences of living in the House. Domantas and Terese’s interviews were conducted in Lithuanian and translated into English. Terese said:

‘I am not able to speak any English and I really wish it was otherwise. I have managed to learn some basic phrases, but that is all. I have bought CDs and books to study, but I have a feeling that the English language just doesn’t want to “stick” to me.’111

Lack of opportunity to practise English was a common experience for those in low-skilled, low-paid work in the UK, because they mainly worked with other non-English speakers.112 In fact, both Edita and Lina learnt another language – Polish for Lina/Lithuanian for Edita – while they were working in chicken factories, largely because their colleagues were Polish/Lithuanian speakers.

Rasa brought her Latvian–English dictionary to the interview. She had bought the dictionary when she came to the UK 18 years earlier; it is now well worn, with tape holding the spine together. Rasa said she did not even know the word ‘hello’ in English when she first arrived in the UK. She used to work her way through her dictionary whenever she was not at work, learning words page by page, cover to cover: “I came with [a] brand new dictionary and now my dictionary looks like a Bible” (see Figure 2.7).113

An old English-Latvian dictionary with a worn spine displaying the title in English and Latvian. The background has a patterned design.
Figure 2.7:

Rasa’s English–Latvian dictionary

Source: image authors’ own

During interviews, both Rasa and Camilla spoke in English, with a translator helping when they got stuck on a word or had difficulty explaining something. Lina, in her interview, mentioned that although she spoke fluent English, she got nervous when speaking to native English speakers and this led her to struggle to communicate. The younger Lithuanian residents (Lina, Adomas, Vida) had all learnt English at school in Lithuania; the older Lithuanian residents had learned Russian. However, Adomas said he struggled with English when he first came to the UK, although he did pick up functional English quickly: “I was studying [English] in Lithuania, but [it] didn’t help me much when I came here. I was thinking [that] I know the language. When I came here, I was like … I know nothing.”114

Irrespective of their English language skills, all residents were at a minimum bilingual, speaking Latvian/Lithuanian and Russian/English. As noted above, Lina, who had worked in a chicken factory for three years, had gained a master’s in applied linguistics in Lithuania and spoke four languages. Edita spoke five languages, two of which she learned after moving to the UK.

Apart from Adomas, who worked in a bar on the seafront, all the residents had worked or were currently working in food processing factories – mostly chicken factories – in the surrounding areas. The time spent working in factories ranged from 3 to 13 years. Camilla and Edita met at work, and Lina and Vida worked together at chicken factories at different times. Their experiences are discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.

2. The landlord

The landlord, Frank, was British, born and raised in Birmingham but with Norfolk roots. His mother was from Norfolk, having moved away “during the war when she was 18 to work at the Spitfire factory in Birmingham as a draft woman”.115 He moved back to Norfolk with his wife when he was 30. He said he bought the House using money he inherited from his mother.116 At the time of our research, he was in his eighties and very unwell, suffering from cancer and needing an oxygen tank throughout the day. Frank’s wife was bed-bound. Both lived about 20 miles outside Great Yarmouth and were unable to visit the House. They had no children.

Frank said he was determined to have Eastern Europeans in the House, explaining that “the only worthwhile people were Eastern Europeans. They are always hard-working, conscientious, helpful, and no trouble.” He said “they have fitted into England and English ways, want to learn the language, want to progress, and I feel I am part of their family in a lot of ways. But it all helps with good relationships.” Frank had visited Latvia a number of times and was particularly close to both Edita and Rasa. Rasa helped Frank with the garden at his house. In Latvia, Frank had worked on the plumbing in the farmhouse of Edita’s parents, and he had been a guest at her wedding. He had also taken Edita and her husband (Rasa’s son) out ‘beating’ (that is, hunting/shooting) in Norfolk. In Frank’s living room (where our interview took place) he displayed a framed picture of Edita and her husband sharing Christmas with him and his wife. He was happy with the makeup of the residents, saying “long may it continue to be little Lithuania. And little Latvia.” Frank supported, and voted for, Brexit.

Other groups did not fare so well in the House. Frank described more than one physical altercation he had had with previous tenants, who were non-EU nationals:

‘Well, I must say I chucked a man out who was six foot something tall and as broad as the doorway, and I believe now he was, he had overstayed his working visa in England. His visa had run out. And if I had got on to the border authorities, he’d have been turned away. But I had to evict him over rent. And he was so slow in going, I kicked his shoes down the stairs and he turned to me, and I said: “Do you know what is going to happen next? You are going to follow them.” Shaking I was. I wasn’t really, but I, you know, I had that advantage that I didn’t know at the time – he was illegal.’

He described another encounter with a resident who was also behind on his rent. Frank called the police in advance to let them know he was going to evict this tenant and was expecting some trouble. In the end, the tenant also phoned the police, reporting an assault after the altercation with Frank. Frank continued:

‘So, I went up, knocked on his door. “I want you out now.” I had already given him notice – he was behind with the rent. I was well within my rights. He wouldn’t go. We ended up having a bit of a fight. I tried to throw him down the stairs, but he was like an eel. And from that, I did get a couple of good ones in. He went back into his room and shut himself in and phoned the police [to say] that he’s been assaulted.’

Frank said that when he bought the House, he removed all the non-European (non-White) tenants, describing the House at the time as the “United Nations”. Referring broadly to “Africans” in the House, he said he engaged in “ethnic cleansing … well, I got rid of everybody, but since then we have only had good people in there, who have been Latvian, Lithuanian and Eastern European.”

Most tenants had moved in following personal recommendation from other residents. Work colleagues had lived in the House for many years. Frank said that this informal “buddy” referral system worked for the House. He left it up to his tenants to decide who lived there, “because ultimately it’s them that’s got to live with them, not me”.117 The residents paid between £60 and £125 per week in rent, depending on room size. This was collected in cash each week by Rasa, who acted as an informal manager and matriarch of the block. All bills (electricity, water, Council Tax and television licence) were included in the rent, and Frank dealt with those. Rasa’s rent was reduced in return for maintaining the communal areas, collecting the rent and sorting out any bills. Residents could ask for a rent receipt and even a tenancy agreement, but they rarely did.

E. The advice charity

Having described the Town, the Street, the House and its residents, we now turn to look at GYROS, the charity we have been working with. We begin by outlining its work (Section 1), before situating it in the broader context of the community advice sector in the UK (Section 2).

1. What is GYROS?

As noted earlier, GYROS was established in 1998 to provide help to asylum seekers placed by London boroughs in Great Yarmouth pending a decision on their application. Its client group is now predominantly EU nationals and their family members. GYROS offers a free holistic, multidisciplinary, multilingual advice service. It has (at the time of writing) 2 full-time staff (immigration advisers), 14 part-time staff and 5 volunteers (this number fluctuates). In Great Yarmouth, it offers a weekly drop-in (on Tuesdays), held in the disused Debenhams (department store) building in the Town centre, where clients are triaged and assigned a case worker based on their language requirements or, in more limited cases, on the specialism they need, such as an immigration adviser. Individual issues may be sorted out there and then (within a 15- to 30-minute window), but where this is not possible, clients are asked to come back for a follow-up appointment (lasting 40 to 60 minutes) the following Friday in the GYROS offices in the Town. On average, 30–50 people attend these drop-ins each week and about 20 follow-up appointments take place.

Every interaction with each client is entered into the GYROS database, which is now hosted by Charitylog.118 Clients are asked to provide feedback and rate the service they received during every visit. Complex cases are discussed by staff in a weekly online meeting dedicated to these cases; this has also been attended by another charity, ACCESS (based in King’s Lynn, Norfolk).119 ACCESS and GYROS were in a delivery partnership, funded by the National Lottery during the life of this research. These hour-long meetings serve as a peer development exercise in which workers discuss what needs to be done to resolve their clients’ issues and get advice from more senior workers.

GYROS advisers are not legally trained. Save for specialist immigration advice (accredited by the OISC), GYROS is a generalist advice and community service. Its staff have often come via the same migration pathways as their clients and they worked in the same factories as their clients when they first arrived in the UK. Many start as volunteers before being taken on as permanent staff. GYROS’ largest client nationality groups are (in order) Portuguese, Romanian and Lithuanian, followed by (in much smaller numbers) Polish, Bulgarian and Latvian EU migrants; advice is offered in these languages. However, the most senior immigration advisers at GYROS, who work on more complex immigration cases, are English/Russian speakers only, so clients needing Level 2 OISC immigration advice will be assigned to one of these workers with a GYROS adviser to translate.

GYROS operates largely on a word-of-mouth basis: clients may refer friends and family members. Other professional agencies also refer clients to GYROS. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GYROS services went online, and during this time it had clients seeking advice from as far afield as Folkestone and Newcastle (other cities in England), and even Lisbon and Tunisia. In these cases, GYROS attempted to refer clients to support more local to them.

GYROS has a part-time director and a five-member board of trustees, which sets strategy. It holds Matrix accreditation for its general advice service. As noted earlier, two of its advisers have Level 2 OISC accreditation for immigration advice, two hold Level 1 accreditation and six hold Level 1 accreditation limited to the EUSS (Chapter 3). GYROS is also registered with the Financial Conduct Authority for debt advice but for some areas, such as Personal Independence Payment applications, it refers cases to DIAL, another specialist charity in Great Yarmouth (see Chapter 6). The quality of advice is checked via internal and external mechanisms. For general advice, case notes are subject to supervision and audit by the adviser’s line manager; for accredited (OISC or Financial Conduct Authority) advice, quality is checked by the subject lead. In addition, annual or biannual audits of case work are undertaken by accrediting bodies – OISC for immigration advice and Matrix for advice work.

One of the biggest challenges facing GYROS is funding. Senior management in the charity speak of the constant need for “plate-spinning”,120 with GYROS running up to 20 funds in any 12-month period, spanning small grants to large, multi-partner ones. It receives money from charity funders such as the National Lottery or through funding hosted by the Community Foundation (Norfolk, Suffolk). It also receives small grants from local authority budgets, such as recent funding to support Ukrainian nationals, and some limited private donations. It has one member of staff whose principal task is to raise funds. GYROS’ annual running costs are between £300,000 and £350,000. There have been times where its advice service has stopped, albeit briefly, in Great Yarmouth when the money ran out. More frequently, GYROS has had to tweak the service it offers, depending on the funding received. For example, GYROS might receive funding to run a ‘job club’, meaning that all employment-related enquiries had to be diverted to it, hence removing ‘employment’ from its general advice service. This can also lead to gaps in the GYROS database as job club outcomes might have to be recorded separately in line with the needs of the funder of that service. GYROS also runs a café, previously in the Town’s library but now in the Time and Tide Museum just off St Peter’s Road. This generates ‘unrestricted funds’ that are used for a hardship fund for GYROS clients (Chapter 6).

The precarity of funding, while not uncommon in the third sector, raises the paradox that the more precarious the lives of those that GYROS helps, the more they need GYROS’ service, a service which could be withdrawn at any time due to lack of funding.

2. GYROS and the community advice sector

In the UK, the general community advice sector is, to a large extent, synonymous with Citizens Advice (formerly Citizens Advice Bureau) and questions regarding use of Citizens Advice feature prominently in empirical research. For example, in Hazel Genn’s Paths to Justice, most of the participants said they knew about Citizens Advice.121 However, while most were aware of it, few knew about the breadth of its service; fewer still knew of any other advice centres that could be accessed, including law centres.122 The scale of Citizens Advice’s operation is completely different to that of GYROS. It is a multimillion-pound charity with a nationwide network of 265 independent local centres, which can access resources and back office support, including legal advice, from the central organization. Nevertheless, their 2020–2021 annual report reveals similarities and differences with GYROS in the types of help people sought. While their main inquiry, consumer problems (930,000), does not feature in the GYROS data at all, this was followed by inquiries with striking similarities to the GYROS data: benefits (700,000), debt (258,000), housing (256,000) and employment (247,000).123 While Citizens Advice is the best-known advice charity in England, there are many others. Advice UK, the UK’s largest support network for independent advice organizations, has almost 800 members. Their 2020–2021 impact report lists (in order) welfare benefits, debt, housing, immigration and employment as the most prevalent inquiries dealt with by their network members,124 again showing a striking similarity with GYROS.

As mentioned, Citizens Advice advisers have access to legal advice (albeit sometimes only at a national, as opposed to local, level). GYROS, by contrast, does not, although they have in the past referred some cases to local Law Centres. GYROS therefore falls within the broader community advice sector, which gains its legitimacy from its cultural and biographical proximity to those it supports; GYROS advisers are trusted and embedded within communities, so more likely to work with individuals in more marginalized groups or those less likely to seek ‘mainstream’ legal advice, particularly due to language barriers.

F. Conclusion

In this chapter, we have provided the context for our research, describing the Town, the Street, the House. We have shown a declining seaside resort where the local residents face high levels of deprivation, and a street in a ward which is among the most deprived nationally, diverse in terms of ethnicity and nationality, with residents living mainly in poor-quality rented HMO accommodation, such as the House of our research. We also described the work of frontline advice charity GYROS, which supports EU migrant workers in Great Yarmouth, providing general advice. We saw that the absence of alternative, more formal, legal advice has meant that EU migrants are reliant on GYROS for specialized advice on immigration.

The reasons for setting the scene in this way125 is to provide context for the results of interview and focus group research, combining to give rich data and ‘thick’ description.126 The details of day-to-day living are what we heard, saw and sensed while gathering data.127 We turn now to the thematic chapters: immigration, employment, housing, welfare and debt, and health. For our cohort, the everyday is punctuated with another commonality, their immigration status. Brexit brought intense focus on, and change for, EU nationals living in the UK. In the next chapter, we look at the introduction of the EUSS in 2019, which offers a new immigration status for EU nationals already living in the UK post Brexit, now a prerequisite for EU migrant workers to continue to live and work in the UK. The chapter discusses the issues with the operation of the scheme for low-skilled EU migrants with little English, such as the Roma Romanians referred to in this chapter, and what GYROS does to help.


I. Braverman, N. Blomley, D. Delaney and A. Kedar, The Expansion Spaces of Law (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014), 1.


All names have been changed to protect the anonymity of participants.


F. Meeres, A History of Great Yarmouth (Chichester: Phillimore, 2007), 5–6.


‘Fish wives and herring girls’ Seaboard History, available at: www.seaboardhistory.com/gallery/herring-girls/, accessed 27 January 2022.


Meeres (2007), n 3, 27.


Ibid, 94.


See the website of the Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth at: https://hippodromecircus.co.uk/heritage, accessed 17 January 2022.


F. Wright, ‘Did you ever see an elephant on Great Yarmouth beach? A look back on decades of fun at the seaside’ Eastern Daily Press (31 July 2017), available at: www.edp24.co.uk/news/20830289.ever-see-elephant-great-yarmouth-beach-look-back-decades-fun-seaside/, accessed 27 January 2022.


Time and Tide Museum information display (August 2022).


See, for example: A. Hedges, Great Yarmouth as it Was (Nelson: Hendon Publishing, 1973); F. Meeres, Yarmouth & Gorleston through Time (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2009), 17.




C. Tooke, Great Yarmouth: A Second Selection (Stroud: The History Press, 2013), 77.


Time and Tide Museum information display, n 9.


Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities Report of Session 2017–19. The Future of Seaside Towns HL Paper 320, available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldseaside/320/320.pdf, accessed 29 January 2022, 61.


See the Norfolk Insight website, available at: www.norfolkinsight.org.uk/, accessed 2 February 2022.




J. Treadwell, ‘Troubled waters: tackling the crisis on England’s coast’ Onward, available at: www.ukonward.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Troubled-Waters-Tackling-the-crisis-on-Englands-coast.pdf, accessed 22 September 2023, 20.


‘Deprivation – Nelson ward – report builder’ Norfolk Insight (2020), available at: www.norfolkinsight.org.uk/deprivation/reports/#/view-report/e52c6f125f644323a2a9580ba51f811e/E05005795/G7, accessed 10 February 2023.




Absolute low-income is defined as a family whose equivalized income is below 60 per cent of the 2010/2011 median income adjusted for inflation.


Norfolk Insight, n 15.


‘Education, England and Wales: Census 2021’ Office for National Statistics (2022), available at: www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/educationandchildcare/bulletins/educationenglandandwales/census2021, accessed 10 February 2023.


Level 4 sits above the highest level of secondary education.


N 23.


C. Beatty and S. Fothergill, ‘The local and regional impact of the UK’s welfare reforms’ (2014) 7 Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 63.


Ibid, 72.


Interview with former community development worker in Great Yarmouth (online, March 2022).


T. Bristow, ‘We’re being used as guinea pigs’ – impact of universal credit welfare revolution felt hardest in Yarmouth’ Eastern Daily Press (2 December 2016), available at: www.edp24.co.uk/news/we-re-being-used-as-guinea-pigs-impact-of-universal-936014, accessed 6 January 2023.


See C. Barnard and F. Costello, ‘When (EU) migration came to Great Yarmouth’ (2023) 18 Contemporary Social Science 154.


Meeres (2009), n 10, 9.


Meeres, n 3, 198.


A. Benns, B. Catchpole and C. Williams, The Holy Church of St Spyridon in Great Yarmouth (Great Yarmouth, The Holy Church of St Spyridon).


Interview with church leader (Great Yarmouth, October 2021).


Government is repeating this policy today. See D. Grimmer, ‘Judge blocks Great Yarmouth hotel use for asylum seekers’ Great Yarmouth Mercury (21 December 2022), available at: www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/news/23206572.judge-blocks-great-yarmouth-hotel-use-asylum-seekers/, accessed 21 December 2022.


Interview with a former asylum seeker housed in the Town (Great Yarmouth, September 2020).


For more, see GYROS’ website at: www.gyros.org.uk/, accessed 27 January 2022.


J.C.P. Almeida and D. Corkill ‘Portuguese migrant workers in the UK: a case study of Thetford, Norfolk’ (2010) 26 Portuguese Studies, 28.


‘“Bootiful” Portuguese boost Bernard Matthews’ The Times (16 September 2004).


Almeida and Corkhill (2010), n 38, 34, 30.


The Times, n 39.


Almeida and Corkhill (2010), n 38, 30.


The Times, n 39.


Barnard and Costello (2023), n 30.


Such as Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor and Brazil.


See James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Reporting and Safeguarding Policy, available at: www.jpaget.nhs.uk/media/472540/Female-Genital-Mutilation-FGM-reporting-and-safeguarding-policy.pdf, accessed 2 February 2022.


On new cases of FGM in Norfolk, see: G. Scott, ‘New cases of female genital mutilation in Norfolk’ Eastern Daily Press (13 June 2018), available at: www.edp24.co.uk/news/health/fgm-norfolk-1230014, accessed 2 February 2022.


Interview with Mariana (Great Yarmouth, August 2022).




Home Office, ‘EU Settlement Scheme Statistics’ Gov.uk, available at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/eu-settlement-scheme-statistics, accessed 3 October 22.




M. Abranches, U. Theuerkauf, C. Scott and C. White, ‘Cultural violence in the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum: manifestations of post-racial xenoracism’ (2021) 44 Ethnic and Racial Studies 2885.


C. Barnard, The Substantive Law of the EU: The Four Freedoms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022), 238–239.


‘Country of birth (detailed)’ Office for National Statistics (2021), available at: www.ons.gov.uk/datasets/TS012/editions/2021/versions/1, accessed 10 February 2023.


V. Parutis, ‘“Economic migrants” or “middling transnationals”? East European migrants’ experiences of work in the UK’ (2012) 52 International Migration 36, 41.


‘Transitional controls had little impact on Romanians’ and Bulgarians’ access to UK benefits’ The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford (21 February 2014), available at: https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/press/transitional-controls-had-little-impact-on-romanians-and-bulgarians-access-to-uk-benefits/, accessed 2 February 2022.


G. Wemyss and K. Cassidy, ‘“People think that Romanians and Roma are the same”: everyday bordering and the lifting of transitional controls’ (2017) 40 Ethnic and Racial Studies 1132.


GYROS database: equal opportunities monitoring, 2020–2021.


House of Lords Public Services Committee, ‘Uncorrected oral evidence: access to public services for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller’ (2 February 2022), available at: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/3402/pdf/, accessed 23 November 2023, 2.


Ibid, 2. Functional illiteracy is defined as reading and writing skills that are inadequate to manage daily tasks involving reading skills beyond a basic level.


‘Learning and skills | Youth and adult literacy rates’ UNICEF (June 2022), available at: https://data.unicef.org/topic/education/learning-and-skills/, accessed 6 January 2022.


Interview with local police officer (Great Yarmouth, November 2021).


Bulgarian factory worker focus group (Great Yarmouth, December 2022).


‘EU Settlement Scheme quarterly statistics’ Gov.uk (June 2023), available at: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/eu-settlement-scheme-quarterly-statistics-june-2023, accessed 22 September 2023.


See ‘The changing picture of long-term international migration, England and Wales: Census 2021’ Office for National Statistics (2023), available at: www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/articles/thechangingpictureoflongterminternationalmigrationenglandandwales/census2021#main-points, accessed 10 February 2023.


Almeida and Corkill (2010), n 38, 30–31.


Ibid, 30.


C. Barnard and A. Ludlow ‘Enforcement of employment rights by EU-8 migrant workers in employment tribunals’ (2016) 45 Industrial Law Journal 1.


Almeida and Corkhill (2010), n 38, 30.


A. Rzepnikowska, ‘Racism and xenophobia experienced by Polish migrants in the UK before and after Brexit vote’ (2019) 45 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 61.


J.M. Lafleur and E. Mescoli ‘Creating undocumented EU migrants through welfare: a conceptualization of undeserving and precarious citizenship’ (2018) 52 Sociology 480.


Interview with former Great Yarmouth Borough Council worker (online, March 2022).


P. Clahane, ‘The false child abduction rumours against Romanians in Great Yarmouth’ BBC News (7 May 2019), available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-norfolk-48155614, accessed 22 September 2023.


N 62; ibid.


N 62; ibid.


J.E. Fox, L. Moroşanu and E. Szilassy, ‘Denying discrimination: status, “race” and the Whitening of Britain’s new Europeans’ (2015) 41 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 729, 735.


J.E. Fox, L. Moroşanu and E. Szilassy, ‘The racialization of the new European migration to the UK’ (2012) 46 Sociology 680, 682.




Abranches et al (2021), n 52, 2885.


M. Goodwin and C. Milazzo, ‘Taking back control? Investigating the role of immigration in the 2016 vote for Brexit’ (2017) 19 The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 450, 451.


For more, see: A. Dickson, ‘Brex on the beach: UK seaside revival gives hope to Leave voters’ Politico (6 May 2021), available at: www.politico.eu/article/brexit-staycation-england-beaches-holiday-coronavirus-crisis-boris-johnson/, accessed 10 February 2023.


For more, see ‘Welcome to the waterways’ The Waterways, Great Yarmouth, available at: https://venetianwaterways.com/, accessed 23 November 2023.


See: ‘Great Yarmouth Winter Gardens given £10m lottery funding’ BBC News (13 July 2021), available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-57807909, accessed 10 February 2023.


For more, see: ‘BBC Concert Orchestra to take up residency in Great Yarmouth’ BBC News (January 2022), available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-60163682, accessed 2 February 2022.


‘New “Banksy” artwork appears at Great Yarmouth model village’ BBC News (9 August 2021), available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-58143164, accessed 10 February 2023.


‘Your new marketplace: updated designs’ Great Yarmouth Borough Council (20 March 2022), available at: www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/market-place, accessed 10 February 2023.


‘Project aims and funding’ Norfolk County Council, available at: www.norfolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/major-projects-and-improvement-plans/great-yarmouth/third-river-crossing, accessed 10 February 2023.


J. Weeds, ‘Great Yarmouth’s £26m Marina Centre officially opens’, Eastern Daily Press (5 August 2022), available at: www.edp24.co.uk/news/20610688.great-yarmouths-26m-marina-centre-officially-opens/, accessed 17 March 2023.


M. Shields, ‘Great Yarmouth: how offshore wind is re-energising seaside town’ BBC News (7 May 2019), available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-48029440?intlink_from_url=&link_location=live-reporting-story, accessed 10 February 2023.


‘Great Yarmouth reveals aim to be “UK strategic offshore port”’ ReNewsBiz (20 October 2020), available at: https://renews.biz/63890/great-yarmouth-reveals-ambition-to-be-uk-strategic-offshore-port/, accessed 7 February 2022.


Interview with local police officer (Great Yarmouth, November 2021).


‘Police launch murder probe after fatal stabbing in Great Yarmouth’ BBC News (9 February 2023), available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-64574132, accessed 10 February 2023.


Interview with local police officer (Great Yarmouth, November 2021).


A ‘ward’ is defined as an administrative division of a city or borough that typically elects and is represented by a councillor or councillors. There are 17 wards across the borough of Great Yarmouth.


‘Demos for thriving local economies project’ Barclays (2020), available at: https://home.barclays/content/dam/home-barclays/documents/who-we-are/our-strategy/GREAT%20YARMOUTH%20life%20chances%20Nov%2020%20Final.pdf, accessed 10 February 2023.


‘English indices of deprivation’ Gov.uk (2019), available at: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2019, accessed 10 February 2023.


N 95.


‘Economy report for Nelson (Great Yarmouth)’ Norfolk Insight, available at: www.norfolkinsight.org.uk/economy-and-employment/reports/#/view-report/47200c8cfb7b433caad9af5019a1b1dc/E05005795/G7, accessed 23 November 2023.




For more, see L. Coates ‘Thousands of illegal cigarettes and alcohol seized in raids in Great Yarmouth and Norwich’ Eastern Daily Press (16 January 2020), available at: www.edp24.co.uk/news/20725456.thousands-illegal-cigarettes-alcohol-seized-raids-great-yarmouth-norwich/, accessed 6 January 2022.


Interview with former community development worker (online, March 2022).


To respect the privacy of tenants living there, we have chosen not to reveal the exact location of the House.


See ‘Private Renting’ Gov.uk, available at: www.gov.uk/private-renting/houses-in-multiple-occupation, accessed 23 October 2021.


J. Moran, Reading the Everyday (Abingdon: Routledge, 2005) 132.


S. Heath, K. Davies, G. Edwards and R. Scicluna, Shared Housing, Shared Lives. Everyday Experiences Across the Life Course (London: Routledge, 2018), 97; they note this scenario could cause conflict – and it did.


Ibid, 89.


Ibid, 83.


Interview with Rasa (Great Yarmouth, September 2021).




In fact, their concerns were realized the following year when Frank died and all the tenants were served notice to vacate the property. See the postscript to this book.


Interview with Terese (Great Yarmouth, October 2021).


A. Grzymala-Kazlowska, ‘From connecting to social anchoring: adaptation and “settlement” of Polish migrants in the UK’ (2018) 44 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 252; C. Barnard, S. Fraser Butlin and F. Costello, ‘The changing status of European Union nationals in the United Kingdom following Brexit: The lived experience of the European Union Settlement Scheme’ (2021) 31 Social & Legal Studies 365, 370.


Interview with Rasa (Great Yarmouth, September 2021).


Interview with Adomas (Great Yarmouth, November 2021).


Interview with Frank (Suffolk, September 2021).


Although it later transpired that Frank may not have legally owned the House – see the postscript to this book.


Interview with Frank (Suffolk, 20 September 2021).


See Charitylog’s website at: www.charitylog.co.uk/, accessed 16 March 2023.


‘About us’ ACCESS, available at: www.accessmigrantsupport.org.uk/about-us/, accessed 10 February 2023.


Interview with GYROS director (Great Yarmouth, February 2022).


H. Genn, Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think about Going to Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 1999), 76.




Citizens Advice, Annual Report 2020/21, available at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/our-work/annual-reports/, accessed 22 September 2023.


‘Our impact’ Advice UK, available at: www.adviceuk.org.uk/influencing/our-impact/, accessed 22 September 2023.


Following the grounded theory idea that ‘all is data’; B. Glaser, The Grounded Theory Perspective: Conceptualization Contrasted with Description (Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press, 2001), 145.


K. Charmaz, Constructing Grounded Theory (Sage Publications, 2014), 23.


Ibid, 3.

  • Figure 2.1:

    Country of birth (excluding United Kingdom) of residents in Great Yarmouth, 2021

  • Figure 2.2:

    Most numerous nationalities in applications to the EUSS from Great Yarmouth, June 2023

  • Figure 2.3:

    Aerial view of Great Yarmouth and St Peter’s Road

    Note: The arrows, pointing to the road, were added by the authors.

  • Figure 2.4:

    St Peter’s Road with a view of St Spyridon

  • Figure 2.5:

    Bathroom on the ground floor, shared by tenants in Rooms 1, 3 and 4

  • Figure 2.6:

    Unfinished flat on the first floor – Rasa (Room 3) has put one of her plants here for light

  • Figure 2.7:

    Rasa’s English–Latvian dictionary

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