Case study: Eduardo

Eduardo, a 23 year old Brazilian, has lived in the UK for four and a half years. He originally came to join his (undocumented) girlfriend. Various members of his family are here or have been here. For example, his mother, also undocumented, came after he did, and his brothers have since returned to Brazil. Similarly, various members of his girlfriend’s family have come and gone. The families provide an important social and domestic support network. Eduardo’s initial months were very hard:

 Then I kept telling myself: ‘No you have to stay’… and I stayed and things started to improve … I only stayed because of her [his ex-girlfriend], because she gave me support also a friend… if it depended on me I’d have gone back.

He was working a 13-hour day in a pizza restaurant kitchen for six, sometimes seven days a week, earning about £340. Now, his employment is less stressful: he has two part-time jobs over five days, earning about £240. Housing has been problematic too, and he has lived in seven different places.

Eduardo and his partner had a child but they are now separated. Their break up and subsequent care arrangements have been stressful: his partner threatened to report him to the immigration authorities if he did not pay ‘alimony’. Being undocumented, he was powerless to prevent her returning to Brazil with his son, although she has since returned to the UK on a student visa. His mother provided the emotional support to get him through these heart- breaking times. He now looks after his son for two weekends a month and provides financial support for him.

However, with the stresses induced by his first job, a bad housing situation and his personal life behind him, he is settled here. He gives the impression of youthful optimism through a relatively relaxed and agreeable life style. He moves in and out of work, gets paid in cash so does not need a bank account, spends freely, has no health issues posing the problem of finding a GP, and he is not worried that he has spent his savings. He frequently talks of enjoying life here:

But now… I love this place, I love it… because… you have, you can do whatever you want. Here people have the financial means.

Eduardo has enough money ‘to have some fun sometimes… it’s possible to enjoy life’. He goes to clubs with a Brazilian friend and Italian friends from the pizza restaurant. He admits his English is poor and a barrier to progress. Like many in his position, he reassures himself that he will:

… leave it for later, next month I am going to plan better, then next month arrives and I’ve got something else on my mind and cancel school.

He came with the ambition,

‘to stay, save… make money, have a flat, have some things’.

Now he wants to get documented, while recognising that with all his new experiences, it would be hard to return and resettle in Brazil.