Brexit is deterring au pair
Brexit is deterring au pairs – If you have missed the article written in the Sunday times on the 16 July 2017, please have a read here:
The number of young Europeans applying to help with childcare in Britain has fallen by up to half since the EU vote
It is the price that no middle-class family in Britain expected to pay.
The endless supply of enthusiastic (or sometimes rather grumpy) au pairs from Europe to the UK’s family homes is drying up, one of the unexpected casualties of Brexit Britain.
Each year, an estimated 40,000 families offer young foreigners a home, food and pocket money. In return, they get the childcare that allows parents to work, often also forming friendships that last years.
Figures collected by agencies that match au pairs with families show the numbers of Europeans willing to work in UK homes has fallen 40%-50% since 2015.
“Brexit has really damaged us,” said Rebecca Haworth-Wood, chairwoman of the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA). “Many families rely on au pairs but this year our agencies are struggling to find them. Europeans are just less willing to come because Britain is perceived to be anti-foreigner. They want to go to families in places like Ireland instead.”
Haworth-Wood surveyed 20 agencies belonging to the association. They had 1,100 families for whom they were struggling to find au pairs when it would normally be relatively easy.
She said: “About 90% of au pairs are young women. Those considering coming this year have been put off — often it is their parents who are most worried.”
Madeleine Nilsson, 25, from Sweden, was in the UK during the referendum and said the negative comments made about foreigners during and after the campaign were disturbing.
“I was living in a household where the dad voted ‘leave’ and the mum wanted to stay. It felt quite personal, like some people wanted me to leave. If the referendum had happened earlier I might have gone elsewhere. I have lots of friends of different nationalities who wanted to come here and are now planning to go elsewhere,” she said.
The dramatic decline is confirmed by AuPairWorld, Europe’s biggest au pair agency, a German internet-based company that sends thousands of young people to the UK each year.
Susanne Becker, its spokeswoman, said that in the first half of 2015 it had 21,000 applications to become au pairs in the UK. This year that slumped to 12,000 — a 43% decline. “We are sorry about this especially for our host families and au pairs. As the UK is important for us, we keep a close eye on the Brexit negotiations and consequences for au pairing.”
Tom Harrison and Catherine Pickstock, professors who live in Cambridge, need au pairs to help care for their three children, because Harrison travels every week. Last year they rewrote the family profile, shown to prospective au pairs, to emphasise the fact they were pro-EU, hoping to encourage applicants. It helped them recruit Milena Wurmer, 19, from Germany, who said: “I knew they were pro-EU so I felt welcome.”
However, the tactic has not worked in finding a replacement for Wurmer, who leaves soon. The family has been looking for weeks, but the number of applicants has “dropped right off”.
Maggie Dyer, of the London Au Pair and Nanny Agency, said: “There was anti-immigrant rhetoric around the Brexit referendum, plus reports of foreign visitors getting abuse. That was reported in Europe and people remember.”
But Halima Darrazi, a French woman from a Muslim family who worked as an au pair in Britain a decade ago, said: “I’m not worried about racism in the UK. France has always been worse. It’s ridiculous to rule out the UK. Where would they learn English? Maybe America? If people are scared of Brexit, they’d definitely be scared of Trump.”
Anxious remainers tell Harley Street all about it
Europe’s negotiators have warned that the clock is ticking — and now the countdown is sending worried patients to Harley Street for help with “Brexit anxiety”.
Remainers with existing feelings of a loss of control over their personal lives are struggling to cope with the additional worry of political uncertainty.
Dr Vanessa Ruspoli, a chartered counselling psychologist on London’s medical thoroughfare, said: “Brexit is an anchor that people are using to express anxieties they are having generally about not feeling in control. I would call it Brexit anxiety.
“Clients will have three or four situations where they’ve tried and failed to influence the outcome — whether a job or relationship. Then Brexit, if they voted to remain, was one thing too much.”
She said people who felt they could do nothing to change their lives became paralysed with indecision. “Instead of a fight-or-flight response you go into freeze — a feeling known as learned helplessness.”
For many of her patients, raising Brexit was a safe way to tackle intensely personal topics.
She said some might be too embarrassed to talk about personal feelings of inadequacy or failure, so addressed the same concerns through talking about politics.
“Brexit and Trump . . . are valid things to be concerned about but it camouflages deeper things,” she added.
Roderick Orner, a visiting professor in clinical psychology at Lincoln University and director of a private clinic, said: “People who are generally anxious anyway will attribute their agitation and fear to whatever is going on at the moment.
“Brexit raises doubts and uncertainties and anxious people find this hard to contain. However, it is real enough for people who present with Brexit syndrome.”