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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Migrant is 'model' hotel worker
by Mark Simpson
BBC North of England correspondent

Sorin Manafu
Sorin pulls a good pint and a smile in the Lake District
Amid the glorious greenery and scenery of the Lake District is a hotel bar worker from Romania who desperately misses city life.

Sorin Manafu, 25, has a law degree but works in England pulling pints because the money is so good.

On his days off, he doesn't explore the lakes and climb mountains, he travels to the nearest internet hub.

So is Sorin an example of how migrant workers are failing to integrate into society? That would be harsh.

He is hard-working, well-mannered and wears a permanent smile.

His boss says he is a model employee. He is a popular member of staff at the Newby Bridge Hotel in the south lakes.

Some migrant workers talk of hostility from the local community, and vice-versa. But Sorin says: "I have been fine. There are always people who will not like you but I try to be nice."

In his hotel, a third of the staff are from Eastern Europe. Indeed, it is estimated that at least a quarter of the tourism workforce - 26,000 people - are migrant workers.

'Good relations'

When the influx began there were fears that the tranquil Lake District would never be the same again.

There have been reports of drunken Eastern Europeans disrupting night life around Ambleside.

During the football World Cup last year there were a number of thefts and a fight involving ten Polish men.

But Jonathan Denby, chairman of the Lakes Hospitality Association, says relations within the community are, on the whole, extremely good.

He points out that migrant workers are helping to keep the hospitality industry afloat in the Lake district.

Crucially, they don't mind working weekends, bank holidays and Christmas. It is also significant that the happiest workers tend to be the ones who speak the best English.

Cumbria County Council runs classes to help migrants cope with paperwork, filling in forms and accessing social services.

Critics say migrant workers are putting too big a strain on health and education services.

Most of the Eastern Europeans ignore the national debate over their arrival and just get on with their work.

As for Sorin Manafu, he is planning to leave the Lakeside hotel bar and move back to Romania one day. And what is he planning to do once he gets there?

Open an English pub.


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