In October 2016, I started Boston More in Common, a Facebook group set up after the Brexit vote, with the goal of recognising and embracing the diversity of my small, British hometown, Boston. In Lincolnshire county near the east coast of England, Boston had the highest proportion of leave voters in last June’s referendum to leave the European Union (EU).
I was one of those leave voters myself. I felt abandoned and ignored by government. I did not want to risk another unprecedented influx of migrants from open borders and free movement with no help or funding to cope. We need to build communities and friendships with those already here.
We are a small town, not a city, and we need stability and for migration to be controlled. This would not be possible with more countries joining the EU and constantly arriving to the UK. We were once a town full of tourists in the summer, but now very few come and visit, especially our fellow Bostonians from Boston, America. We need to change this.
The group aims to change people’s ways of thinking and encourage friendships between different ethnicities in my hometown. Britain’s reputation has been tarnished by the media, which has stoked hatred and fear between different community groups and locals, dividing towns like Boston further and lowering the morale of everyone who lives here.
One of the town’s core issues is population growth. Boston does not have the infrastructure or services to cope with an increase in population, like the cities do. Our councils lack the expertise and do not seem to get much support on how to deal with the flow of new migrants – uncontrolled migration would mean more houses of multiple occupations and further strain on our public services.
Although we do believe there should be limits on the volume of migration, we also need to do a better job of making newer immigrants feel welcome in Boston, and build a stronger sense of community and belonging. My group aims to steer away from politics so we can focus on integration and cohesion with respect for all the different nationalities living in Boston and for locals, regardless of their political views.