Sunday, 21 July 2019

UK's best feature

BFTF usually asked interviewees a "special question" at the end of an interview. The question is simply:

What do you think is the best thing about living in the UK?

The reason for asking it is an an antidote to the tendency that we all have to discuss what is wrong with the UK, rather the many things that are right.

A happy Union Jack, yesterday

Jamahl Peterkin from the Nottingham Peace Project
In all fairness regardless of the cuts, poverty and the state doing the best they can to keep people of JSA and benefits in the most repugnant manner - the welfare system, NHS and democracy of UK is most definitely what keeps us above the rest. Which is why it does not make sense for the government to want to cut these areas as this is what makes UK great. Taking care of its people in need, having a democracy and a welfare state. This is what makes a country great, a state that supports and cares for its citizens.

Louise Cooke from Sharewear
"Based on my trip to Sao Paolo in 2012 to the favelas and based on some of my experiences now as someone who works for the charity CAFOD part time, I would say one of the best things about living in the UK is that no matter how poor we are; no matter how austerity kicks in there are always support networks around to help us and also, most importantly, we've always got access to clean safe water and sanitation."

Dr Saqib from Ahkuwat
"[Brtitish] people are extremely hard working, something that we as a nation in Pakistan lack, we don't work hard. Also [British] people are very, very honest, they don’t cheat anybody. I think these are two extremely important values.

This message I am taking from your country to Pakistan, to tell people that if you want to make a mark for yourself you must work hard and be honest with yourself and with others."

Kamran Fazil, Islamic Help - 2013
I've travelled to many countries throughout the world. For me, my health is important, and in the media recently the NHS has taken a lot of stick – let me tell the listeners out there that the NHS is amongst one of the best services that you will receive anywhere in the world.

I could talk about this really quite passionately, its not where it was 10 years ago, or where it was 5 years ago….but in the way it is currently, the NHS is a godsend.

I have had to visit medical centres in other countries and, by God… if I had to live there, if my child suffered a terrible accident, then I would be on my knees begging Allah Almighty for something like the NHS where I can take my child straight away and take him to see a doctor and get him fixed up. I wouldn't mind being on a waiting list, waiting to pick up the phone because I know I will get something.

Ian Shaw, Professor of Health Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uni.of Nott'm - 2012
I think it’s two things. One is that there is a degree of security here, you can walk the streets and you can live fairly peaceably. I think the other thing is that there is a degree of social justice and I think that some of the institutions of social justice, like the NHS, help to frame that - but you see this, itcommunity spirit occasionally like if you are on a train that has broken down, it’s hot, there’s no water and people start sharing, start chatting and all of a sudden you know why people are doing visits, why they are on the train, that grandchild they are going to visit. You scratch the surface and there is a good community there and that’s what I like.

Prof Alfonso Aragón-Salamanca Professor of Astronomy at the Uni. of Nott'm - 2012
I have been in the UK since 1988 and there are two things that I have found very welcoming and, for me, very important about this country. One is the very strong sense of fair-play. People value it and if something is not fair, people rebel against it immediately.
And the other thing, on a much lighter note is that people value a sense of humour. A good sense of humour is something that I really like. I’m not saying something that my countrymen don’t know in Spain when I say that the British sense of humour is much better than the Spanish sense of humour because in the UK we laugh at ourselves, that is something that I always find very curious. If you look in the personal ads in a newspaper, one of the things that people look for is a good sense of humour and that is a very important quality because life is tough enough so let us laugh every now and then and we will all be a little happier.

Chris Lintott (Co-Presenter of "The Sky at Night") - 2012
I’m standing near New York, in out collaborators office so right now I could kill for a cup of tea! But more seriously, I think that the UK is still a place where ideas are taken seriously, where people are interested in the fact that we can discover planets around other stars and that people are willing to spend their spare time doing that. So that mass collaboration, that mass interest in some quite serious ideas is, I think, a huge strength. I think in the UK we are often portrayed as quite cynical, but actually, we know from the work we have done with the BBC, that there is a huge interest and desire to be part of understanding the universe and that is something that, whilst not uniquely British, we have managed to retain despite the crises of the last few years and the cynicism about money and politics and so on.

Eben Upton (Raspberry Pi) - 2012
What would I put at the top of my list of the best things about living in the UK? I’ve lived in a number of places. I’ve lived in France and I’ve lived in the US and the thing about the UK is that it feels like having been the UK for a very long time. It has a lot of institutions that have been around for a long time, like the University of Cambridge which has been around for an enormous amount of time. They’re not perfect, heaven knows that the University is not a perfect institution. You can stand in the middle of Cambridge and you are standing in the city that gave us Newton and a thousand scientists and a thousand philosophers. And there is just something about that sense of history about the place and the fact that that co-exists, certainly in Cambridge in any case, with an enoumous economic dynamism that we at Raspberrypi are trying to keep going. It makes it a very congenial place. I love it in the UK.

Morris Samuels (Unity Project) - 2012
I think it’s diversity. I think we have moved a long way, I can remember when I was a youngster that racism would be right in your face. People may argue that it is a bit covert now but the thing is you can go down streets now and go in houses and see dual heritage family with blacks and whites living together with, from previous relationships, a black child, a white child and then a dual heritage child that they have had together. We are going to have our setbacks, but it is getting better.

Muhammed Suleiman (Citizens Milton Keynes) - 2011
Having been in Syria and in other Muslim countries in the Middle East, it is the freedom that we have here, without a doubt.

Jane Burd (Greenpeace) - 2011
Tea, I’ve been to other countries around the world and in none of them was I able to get a cup of tea as good as it is made here.

Rizwan Hussein (Muslim Youth Hotline) - 2007
The Weather. Everyone moans and complains about the weather, the weather being this and the weather being that. But at the end of the day, if the weather was always sunny and bright, we wouldn’t be living in the UK would we? Because that is what makes the UK what it is really, the mundane, raining all the time and cold weather

Celia Stevens (Bramley Apples) - 2007
Whether it is day or night you can walk out of your front door, look up and, in the night time you see the stars, in the daytime you see the blue sky. If you can’t open your eyes in the morning, open your window and listen to the birds. We live in a very beautiful country. Who could not just sit on a rock and watch the sea. What more wonderful thing can you do than to sit under an apple tree?

Tazeen Shah (Engaging Faith) - 2007
The social mobility aspect of the UK that really appeals to me. As a Muslim, if you don’t come from a priviledged family, if you come from a working class background – as long as you have a good education and you have a commitment, belief in yourself and dedication to try and succeed – you can succeed. You will be confronted by racism and everything else but it is up to you to try and combat that. So I would like to urge Muslim sisters and brothers out there that don’t give up, keep trying, set yourself a goal and go for it.

Ade Williams (Eco Teams) - 2007
The diversity of the countryside we live in. My background is very much looking at the countryside in the earth sciences and it is just fascinating that you can just go to some parts of the UK that are very flat, very open and have a character all of their own – and then you can go to other parts that are very hilly and mountainous and have a completely different view point again. I like that diversity. That’s the real character, for me, of the green England and the dry stone walls and that sort of thing.

Sajid Mohammed (Himmah)
This country had offered so much to people. We should not look at ourselves as citizens, not immigrants, we were once also citizens of the commonwealth as well and we are only collecting what was duly ours in the first place. We were citizens, we were invited etc. There are some absolutely incredibly good things about this country – the sense of fair play, the sense of helping the underdog, we always supported Frank Bruno, even though we knew he didn’t have a good chance of winning anything! The sense of the rule of law, even though at times, I have to say, there have been some problems in this country, especially by some people with an agenda of deep racism – but that’s not everyone. And theres a welcoming sense of people here, there is the infrastructure here – if you get ill you can go to hospital, free schooling – which has always been a feature of traditional Islamic civilisation. And the sense of the rule of law, that no matter where you are, or who you are, you could get a fair trial. Now I know that, with the laws that have been passed recently, there has been a degrading of social liberty and social freedom. But it is for us to remind the people of this country, as well as being people of this country, that freedom is an intrinsic right for all humans and it is worth more when times are difficult than when times are easy. We should never, ever give up our freedoms

Alisa Bashir (Asian Young Achiever of the Year) - 2007
That it is a multicultural society. I love that , in comparison to other countries there are lots of different religions, different cultures and the fact that we can tolerate each other and get along.

Professor Peter Usherwood (Neighbourhood Watch) - 2007
I was born in a very poor working class community and my father was a baker, a master baker. He worked for a company and he used to get up at 4.30 every single morning of his life until he retired. We weren’t well off, we were really quite poor, but through hard work I managed to get to University. And then I got married as soon as I graduated from University and I slipped back into a very poor environment. I went with my wife to Glasgow University and lived in a very poor part of Glasgow. We shared an apartment with drug addicts and with prostitutes. We had a small child at the time and it was extremely unpleasant and two murders took place in apartments nearby. Since that time, things have improved. I’m a research scientist an have been to most parts of the world, including many Islamic countries. I’ve had lots and lots of students – hundreds. Lots of people working with me and many of my friends come from Muslim parts of the world. So I have a very good knowledge of what goes on in many different parts of the world and the way people behave in those parts of the world and the character of those people. And I always come back to Great Britain with one thought in my mind, one word in my mind and that word is tolerance.
This country is a tolerant country, believe me, and it is quite a remarkable country in this respect.

Imran Akram (Muslim Writers Award) -2007
I was born and bred in the UK. I absolutely love the United Kingdom. I know there are issues around government, politics, foreign policy and that kind of stuff but, you know, generally I think the UK is probably the best place to live in the world. You have more opportunity here to do things than you probably would in a lot of the Islamic countries. What I really like is, and I know this may sound sad, but the manners of people when it comes to things like queuing. You go to Pakistan or the middle East and there is no such thing as queues and the strongest will win. Here (in the UK) they have a system in place, they appreciate queuing, they know what’s going to happen and it all comes back down to respect. There are things, obviously, which upset people about the UK but overall the manners of people, they are the most tolerant people in the world. They don’t like complaining; they’ll sit in a restaurant and eat something awful but not complain. They just won’t go back there again. These are the kind of things that only Britain could do, I guess.

Julia Hawkins (Ethical Trading Initiative) – 2007
When my friends are complaining about things in this country, the commuting or the weather, I think that we are just so lucky to live in this country. Generally speaking, we have water, most of us have enough food, enough clothes. We are not in fear of our lives. We can vote, we can put governments in and we can kick them out – and that is actually quite rare in the world so I feel incredibly lucky to have been born in this country, to be living in this country - and I have lived in countries where you don’t necessarily have the same freedoms - and I think that (living in the UK) is something to be really happy about.

Yashrib Shah (Muslim Hands) – 2007
I think it is a state of gratitude, do you see the glass as being half full or half empty. The Prophet (PBUH) was always optimistic
I have been abroad and I have been into Muslim Lands and one thing that is extraordinary for those that have done that is the freedom you have to worship in the UK, which is bizarre because I have visited Muslim countries and I have felt oppressed actually and almost fearful of worshipping and being myself whilst here I can walk around wearing my prayer hat, having a beard and, I kid you not, if you have never experienced what I am talking about, maybe not so much in Pakistan, but if you go to parts of the Middle East as I have you will find there seems to be even an open opposition to Muslims studying, anything to do with Islam, they see you as a threat and I praise Allah that we have a country here (the UK) where there is a freedom to worship. I find it far easier to practice Islam in this country than in many of my travels to Muslim lands so I am very appreciative of that. I am also appreciative of the conservatism that we have in the UK, which is very different to that of mainland Europe, although many people may argue that that is being corroded and that it is maybe on the way out with the new generations which are coming possibly, I hope not, being a very conservative country which hold to high moral values. I am very well aware that they are deteriorating with the new generations but I really like talking to old English people because they have so much in common in terms of morality and they actually look at the newer generations like we do, from a very moral viewpoint. I agree with your comments in your email about queuing – In England people queue. I have not been on Hajj yet but I have heard stories about people just shoving past and, you know, the sabr(patience) is not even there and people are not having this good etiquette. You know, generally speaking, the British people are a fantastic bunch.

Konnie Lloyd (Notts Refugee Forum) -2007
I have to say that, when I am marching in London, protesting about the war in Iraq and saying some pretty rude things about our government – and I am a member of the Labour Party so I think I can do that with a great deal of force – I think we are able to protest here, we are surrounded by Police but they are there to protect us and to keep things in order, and are often quite pleasant about it. I think that in many other countries, to open your mouth and protest you will be beaten up by the Police and I am glad that we are still able to protest and are not beaten up for it, although I know that civil liberties have been impinged upon in the last few years. I think that is very important.

Mohammed Patel (Consumer Direct / Trading Standards) - 2007
The variety of food, in our family we do try to experiment with different types of food and we have just had a traditional English roast chicken meal with roast potatoes. To have that variety, that we may not have had in the subcontinent, is one of the things that I am very pleased with.