Immigrants, football and racist behaviour

Published in the Sunday Guardian
South Asian immigrants shopping in Southall, London, in 1970.
 South Asian immigrants shopping in Southall, London, in 1970. Photograph: Woolnough/Getty Images

Most Britons were not hostile and helped south Asians and east Africans to settle, says Nitin Mehta

Kavita Puri, like so many others before her, talks about the racism faced by immigrant communities when they first arrived in large numbers during the 1960s (They came from south Asia to help build Britain. The racism they saw then is back, 20 December). This does great injustice to the vast majority of British people who went out of their way to help the new migrants to settle. They volunteered to teach English, teachers paid extra attention to immigrant children, health service staff treated the frail and elderly with utmost compassion.

As an example, the city of Leicester accommodated tens of thousands of people fleeing Uganda. The Conservative government of Ted Heath did a remarkable job in settling those expelled from Idi Amin’s regime. Employers took in the new arrivals with little grasp of English and let them flourish. A huge number of people from the Indian subcontinent and east Africa ventured into business and prospered. The new generation born in this country have achieved beyond anyone’s imagination. They have broken many glass ceilings. Yes, you will occasionally get abuse thrown at you or there will be disagreeable people in all walks of life, but how can that be representative of the whole country?

Nitin Mehta
Croydon, London

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