Globe, United Kingdom

An Italian immigrant in the time of coronavirus

In the last month, the situation in the UK has changed a lot, making me deal with experiences that I never imagined I would have faced. This is my story, but there are other stories coming. Stories from immigrants in this country that The Prisma want to share, to tell you that you are not alone. The Prisma’s new series.


Nathan Raia


I mentioned in the article Brexit article seen by an immigrant that I arrived to London back in 2015 with only £1200 in my pocket and a suitcase full of dreams. Five years later my situation has changed a lot, I’ve got a job, I went back to study and I write for The Prisma. I never would imagine that I would have to face such a big crisis alone and in a foreign land.

I have been working in a coffee shop since 2016, and when the pandemic arrived in England, I was about to present my resignation, so April the 7th 2020 was meant to be my last day of work. After four years working for the company, I was tired, especially tired of the abuses that I have witnessed and experienced myself in recent months, abuse from the bosses, and from others with the employees.

In the meantime, I continued to monitor the rapid development of the Coronavirus situation in Italy, my home country. I saw things were going really badly and really quickly, but I didn’t worry about myself, “luckily” I was far away. Maybe I couldn’t rationalize the fact that sooner or later it would happen here too.

I started to understand it for the first time when my school closed down. I was in class, when, after a little more than an hour, the headmaster came into my class saying that the school would be closed with immediate effect, sending everyone home.

Nathan Raia

The second signal came when, a week before the total lockdown, I couldn’t any longer find pasta in the supermarket shelves, and as an Italian this was problematic.

Then, a few days later, my manager told me that the company decided to stop new hirings and that almost all the companies in the hospitality sector, took the same decision.

I would have found myself without a job  and no financial support at all.

There was already a rumour about a possible layoff, the furlough scheme, in case we would be forced to stay home, so I decided to withdraw my resignation, thus receiving financial help in times to come.

Before the closing of all bars, pubs and restaurants, the hours had been cut to the minimum. When, before we were at least in two per shift, now we had to work alone.

The first day I refused to work, I was supposed to work a six and a half hour shift, without being able to take my break or even just to go to the bathroom. Only a few days later the company provided us with the sign “back in 20 minutes”, which authorized us to close the shop to go to the bathroom or to take a break.

Photos: Pixabay

While I’m writing this article, the third week of quarantine is beginning. Life goes on and on, I’m trying to fill the long days by continuing with my school study, thanks to technology the lessons and the assignments have not been suspended, reading and writing. There are almost infinite ways to keep ourselves busy and spend time, so please stay home, stay safe.

The Covid-19 pandemic brings with it great teachings. It showed us that borders exist only on maps and that every little thing that happens in a remote corner of our planet can have disastrous effects on the life of each of us. We are all in the same boat, no matter in which country you were born in, what language you speak or what colour your skin is, we all live on the same planet. Now it’s up to us to decide if we want to learn or not.

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