I told them I have to live here and they have to come into my shop so they got more friendly.
I was born in India, Ambala in the Punjab in 1953. I came to England when I was thirteen and I used to live in Hounslow in London. I got married and came to Newcastle where my husband’s family had a shop. Eighteen years ago I came to Howdon where we have a newspaper shop. When we first moved there it was difficult. Mostly, the children were naughty in the shop and when I sent them out they called me names. I didn’t like it but after a little while I talked to them. I told them I have to live here and they have to come into my shop so they got more friendly. We are mostly friends now. I like it here, but I don’t like the weather.
I come from the Congo (Brazzaville) with my sister and brother in law who is from North Shields. Living here is okay but sometimes the kids are not friendly. They are not used to black people. When they walk past they stare at me.
I came to London in 1977 after getting married. We stayed in London for a period of four years, where I had my first two daughters who were born in South London Hospital. When my second daughter, Shamina, was two months old we came to Newcastle on the hope of starting up a business. This became successful. We stayed in rented accommodation for six months and then bought a house in North Shields.
After my children were a bit older, I found I had a lot of spare time on my hands and nothing to do. This made me quite unhappy and lonely as I was missing my family. I then found out about sewing classes in North Shields town centre. This was only open for a short period. The council then started doing English classes for the ethnic minority at Whitley Bay library.
I am now in a dilemma as all of these facilities have been closed down due to low funding. I can no longer see old friends or make new ones as I have to spend my time, like old times, in the house alone. I feel that all the English language I have learned will suffer as a result of these closures.