Mihai is frustrated. His clothes are clean, and he’s taken a shower this morning at the Chelsea Methodist drop-in, but what he really wants is a job.  He arrived in England almost a year ago as an eager 25-year old, but things haven’t panned out the way he hoped.

 

“Here, they want too much paperwork,” Mihai says. Glass Door caseworkers helped Mihai apply for a national insurance number and a UTR (unique tax reference), but it’s not enough for potential employers, who “only want English references," he says. "What you’ve done elsewhere doesn’t count." 

 

Mihai lived in Germany for four years with his former wife. When the relationship broke down, he left her everything and just wanted to make a clean start, he says. So he packed a bag and travelled to England. 

 

“I arrived with money. I spent the first two weeks living in a hotel. People say you need a CV, so I went to the library and made myself a pile of CVs.” But employment agencies didn’t call back, and his money ran out.

 

“I can do plumbing, electrical work, building. I can work as a kitchen porter or waiter. Let me prove what I can do,” he says emphatically. Mihai speaks seven languages. He used to be a kick boxer and has photographs of the trophies to prove it.

 

Before settling in Germany, Mihai travelled the world working on a cruise ship as part of the maintenance crew.  But now he’s sleeping under doorways in a sleeping bag, struggling to find a free shower and some lunch in-between peddling his resume.

 

It’s even worse in Romania, he says. “In Romania, you can earn 300 to 400 euros a month max salary. But you need to spend 600,” he says.

 

Mihai is getting tired.  “I can’t humiliate myself day after day,” he says. “People treat Romanians here like garbage.” 

 

“I don’t need from this country benefits,” Mihai adds.

Just give me one legal job. Let me work.