An example story from Tomas

My name is Tomas and I was born in Barcelona, capital city of Catalonia in Northern Spain. My parents are not originally from that region. They, like many other Spaniards, migrated from deprived rural areas in Southern Spain to industrialised cities searching for work in the sixties. As children, my brother and I loved spending our summer holidays down South in the countryside were my parents were born. It felt like a tranquil but exciting haven in comparison to our busy live in a big city.

Catalonia has a strong identity, very different to the Spanish one, and for centuries it has been trying to become independent from Spain. Many Catalan people don’t feel they are Spanish. On the other hand, many Spanish people don’t feel that Catalans are true Spaniards.

I have lived in the UK for seventeen years, fourteen of those in Bearwood. My partner is French and I have friends and family in France. I feel somehow at home when I go to France, even if I have never lived there.

Right now, Bearwood is home for me, my comfort zone. The streets that I walk every day, the places where I do my shopping, the little barber’s shop that I’ve known for years, the friendly garage I trust to repair my old car, my favourite curry restaurant, the pub where I love having a drink with my friends in warm summer evenings, the beautiful park to walk my dog, even that particular front garden with the red geraniums and that house with very nice curtains make me feel this is my place.

People are obviously extremely important as well. The lady in the post office and the one in the little shop where I buy my cigarettes always have a friendly smile for me. It is comforting to always see the same faces at the supermarket checkout and have a little chat while you put your stuff in the bag. It is reassuring to go to your local dentist and see that they remember you. I could make a long list of friends and acquaintances that make me feel happy to be here.  Bearwood is a friendly place because of its people. Seemingly  trivial things like a stranger suddenly stopping to say something nice to your dog in the middle of the street are definitely important. You realise that Bearwood is a warm neighbourhood where people are still seen as individual human beings, not just as part of a crowd.

My identity is based on factors other than what is written on my passport. My opinions on Catalan independence and whether Catalonia becomes independent from Spain don’t matter. What Catalans and Spaniards think doesn’t matter. What French people might think doesn’t matter as it’s not important either what British people think. I am Catalan, Spanish, French and British in any order you prefer. It is a mix with many ingredients that life has chosen for me to make my personal non-transferable cocktail and Bearwood is definitely a great ingredient that makes my cocktail much tastier. Nobody can tell me who I am and where I belong to. I belong to Bearwood and Berwood belongs to me. It will always be like that.

Thanks to National Lottery players