Living in the UK, we are privileged. Plain and simple. We have opportunities available to us that others could only dream of. That is the reason thousands immigrate to the UK every year, in the hopes that the will be able to experience this too.
Many others, though, immigrate to start their careers, families and lives in a new environment no matter where their original home is. This leads to many people seeking British citizenship in the country they have grown to call home, to feel secure in their position in British society. It is a tough, trialling process which can take many years to succeed in. Last year, there were 175,891 applications- 24% more than the previous year- and 81,359 were granted settlement, which is 40% more than the year before.
Some select pupils from our school had the opportunity to attend a citizenship ceremony, the final stage of the process. This makes the new citizens official, and celebrates their journey to becoming a permanent part of the British public. In this particular ceremony, people from all around the world were becoming official Brits, including the USA, Poland and Mexico. You could see the pride on the faces of both the new citizens and their families as they experienced what they had been working towards for such a long time.
Speaking of the ceremony, Provost Ian McAllan said “previously it was just a bureaucratic exercise where the candidates came in, signed a piece of paper and left. Now we’ve added real movement and presence to [the ceremony] and I think that’s really important because lots of people have gone through many barriers to get here.”
After the ceremony, I had the chance to speak to a new citizen from Turkey who told me it felt “amazing” to finally have his citizenship. He was accompanied by his wife and young son, both British citizens, and was “very proud” to have finally made it to the finish line, after many hard years spent trying to gain his official place in Britain.
This interaction really moved me. The sheer pride I could see on this man’s face because he had finally become what most of us take for granted: our status as British citizens. Being in that room, surrounded by those who had worked tirelessly, learning about our nation, much of which original citizens do not know, singing ‘God Save the Queen’ perfectly, which, again, the pupils in attendance did not know, was such an eye opener. The time and lengths gone to in order to become citizens are a testament to just how determined they are to be British citizens.
By Lucy Wright, Editor-in-Chief