‘Join me for a picnic in Wilton Park’ says reader in an open letter to the Polish community of Melton

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“Britain has voted to leave the EU, and Melton was amongst those that did.

When I saw the result I was shocked, saddened and confused. I have tried to imagine how you must feel in the aftermath of this, living amongst us, feeling unwelcome. I’m sure I can’t do it justice but I have enough humanity in me to feel wretched for you.

I wanted to say I’m sorry.

Your children are my children’s friends at school (Jan is my little boy’s only school friend, I don’t know him, but I love him for it). When I take my children to school I want you to know that I don’t see immigrants, I see loving mothers and fathers, fretting over their babies just like me, and I know we already have one huge thing in common. I see men and women that have left their homeland. Moved to a country that doesn’t speak their first language, where things must be disorientating and frightening. And you’ve done this to secure a better future, a better future for your families. I admire you.

I know we voted to leave but I don’t want you to. I want to thank you for all the hard work you do. If you left, I promise you Jeremy Kyle’s audience wouldn’t roll off the sofa and scramble to take the jobs you left (although I’d bet you could measure it if they did). I get the frustration with Brussels, but that’s politicians, not people. You are not my enemy, I just don’t know you yet.

I want to bridge that gap. With that in mind I will be in Melton’s lovely Wilton Park on Sunday, August 14 with my children, and a picnic. I would love you to join us. Bring your kids, footballs, whatever. I bet at least one of you big lads has got a guitar and voice like an angel. Come and teach me some songs, come and teach me some Polish. I will happily teach as much English as you could ever use. This great country used to be a huge collection of communities, we loved and looked after each other in way we have lost. I don’t care what we voted, our community is ours to make, please stay a part of it.”

Paul Atkins, Melton