It’s not fair – we didn’t vote to take away our choices. I wait to hear our fate.– Louise in Malta
My husband had searched for a position through Googling one day “Theatre Manager jobs in Malta” knowing it was English speaking, thinking it might be fun to live somewhere else. We both worked long hours with little reward – Phil in a private hospital and me in retail and figured it was worth a shot. It was within a matter of days that he was invited for a Skype interview which we thought went ok and as we had planned our holiday in Gozo two weeks later for his 50th birthday, we were invited into the hospital to meet and for a formal interview for Phil.
We heard he had the position late October, put our house on the market and sold our home in a week with 7 weeks to gather up our lives ready for a new start in January 2015. We drove to Malta with our then 19 year old cat, suffered a severe car crash en route but arrived in one piece in the worst winter in Malta for 35 years 20th December 2014.
I imagine with research, people who move to another European country might be better prepared for it. We didn’t have very much time and decided we would just take the plunge (I have always been an all or nothing type) but I remember for at least the first 12 months we both thought “what have we done ?” The odd regret here and there but only because we had additional hoops to jump through regarding the broken car and registering it etc. Red tape in a foreign land can be difficult to get used to and sometimes I think the Maltese set you tests to see if you cope. But I do know if help is needed they are the first to step up (breaking my toe springs to mind; the Maltese Landlord of our local hostelry came to pick me up to take me to hospital).
I was absolutely devastated when hearing the result of the referendum but it wasn’t totally unexpected having followed the UK news and the Leave campaigners from Malta. The best thing for me personally on the day of the news was the support network around me, not friends and family back home—friends I have now lost—but my new Maltese family at work. They understand my anguish from Day 1 and they were probably more surprised than me at the result. Phil has tried to be pragmatic with me and remain positive. When I try and discuss the whole sorry state of affairs and the absolute mess the UK will be in and the fear of being forced to return somewhere I don’t want to be anymore (because I have to talk about it because I don’t feel heard) my family back ‘home’ has a favourite saying of ‘I’m sure you’ll be ok, it won’t come to that …’. Friends on Facebook always followed our pictures of sunshine and sea and updates about our new life, but that all stopped dead June 24th 2016.
So, where are we now? Phil works long hours in a hospital and I work long hours in retail; that aspect of our lives hasn’t changed much. What has changed? We came to Malta with a view to buying our own home within the first 2 years but our sterling house sale proceeds have fallen through the roof back in my UK bank account, we’re both 3 years older (and the cat too – a relaxed 22 year old now). We integrate into local communities and life in general. Personally, I’m trying to help my local community. I’ve become involved in the Prince’s Trust which, for its first time in Malta, is helping to get underprivileged young people into work through an on-the-job training programme. But we are stuck at what do we do now … too young (and poor now) to retire and too old to return to the UK for work.
It’s not fair, we didn’t vote to take away our choices. I wait to hear our fate.
August 2017 Update: Louise wanted to share this photo
Louise is just one of the volunteers to our Citizens’ Panel.