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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
City launches citizenship classes
Bernard Presgrave
Bernard Presgrave and his family claimed asylum in the UK in 2001
Classes aimed at helping people pass a test they must complete before becoming British citizens are being run in Swansea for the first time.

The classes were started due to demand in west Wales from those looking to sit the "Life in the UK" exam.

Bernard Presgrave, 47, arrived in the UK from Pakistan in 2001 with his wife Angela and children Ursula and Vivian.

He was given refugee status in 2003 and the family are looking for full British citizenship after settling in Swansea.

Since November 2005 anyone seeking citizenship must pass the 45-minute test, covering topics such as government and society, and take part in a formal citizenship ceremony.

If you have come into this country you must understand the systems, the culture, what you can contribute
Bernard Presgrave
"I hope to get my naturalisation certificate and then I get my UK passport," Mr Presgrave explained.

"I had been travelling to the UK for many years now and some of my relatives have been here 30 years so I have an in-depth knowledge of the UK - the lifestyle and the system."

Controversial

The classes in Swansea are being run by the Workers' Education Association and Swansea Bay Race Equality Council.

But the introduction of the tests was controversial.

The Home Office said they were aimed at helping people integrate and share British values and traditions, but there were claims they were an extra layer of bureaucracy facing those looking to settle in the UK.

TAKING THE TEST
UK passport
24 questions
British life and culture
Institutions and governance
History and traditions

Mr Presgrave said he welcomed the test but it had added to the cost of gaining citizenship.

"It has its value - to study anything you gain something," he said.

"If you have come into this country you must understand the systems, the culture, what you can contribute.

"Personally I think it's a good thing."

Mr Presgrave said he and his family would study at home and all hoped to sit the exam.

"We want to make it a fun game doing it - we are going to put time aside, test each other and ask each other questions.

"My wife said she wanted to go for it and it will encourage my children."

Month's salary

But Mr Presgrave said he estimated by the time he took the 34 test, and took part in the ceremony and other expenditure, becoming a citizen would cost about 220.

"With four members of one family it will be costing around 880 - that's just close to one month's salary," he said.

"We do respect he law - we do swear allegiance to the Queen but at the same time you should think that burden is coming on to a family like us who are just settling down in the UK. The fees are too much in my opinion"

An induction day has been held and two courses will be run once a week for the next 10 weeks.

"We were just getting to know what it is about," said Mr Presgrave.

"They are straightforward questions but you are learning something new about this country - the system, the people, the history and that's the challenge to get more information about the country you are living in."

The BBC news website will be following Bernard Presgrave as he seeks to gain full citizenship.


SEE ALSO
New UK citizenship testing starts
01 Nov 05 |  UK Politics
New citizens take the test
31 Oct 05 |  UK Politics
Wales' first citizen ceremony
24 Mar 04 |  South West Wales

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