Daljit Johal

Daljit Johal

I was born in Punjab and I was 18 when I came to England. In November this year, it will be forty years that I have been here. I came to the UK because I was engaged as part of an arranged marriage. That was the normal thing to do when I was young.

When I came here to England life was totally different. My big sister was already here, she was already married and living in Wolverhampton. So I came to my sister's house first, I got married there and then I moved to Birmingham.

Life was totally different. At first, I didn't mix with anyone. I think at first it was the language barrier. Slowly, living here, I started to understand more. After 3 or 4 years things started to change. At first, I didn't really have any friends, but I have got a really nice family, I have got my sister here and my aunties. My parents were in India and so were my brothers.

My husband and his family were all so nice. I am so lucky that I am part of a really nice family.  They were so wonderful and loved me so much, I didn't feel lonely or miss my parents too much. I especially love my sister-in-law, well we are best friends, and my kids. I have three kids. My son is 36. My daughter Tanvir is 34. The younger one, my baby, she's 29.

I have always lived in Smethwick since I came over. I really like Smethwick, it?s nice. Sometimes my son says, “oh we can move?” and I say,”no, I always want to live in Smethwick, it's near the temple.” There are so many different people and communities that live here. When I came it was more just English people and then some Indian and the Jamaicans. Now it is so different with many different communities and different people. It's very friendly.

I go to Temple and my community is there. I talk to them and also do some serving in the Temple. Anything that needs doing, it doesn't matter what, I just like to help out. And around here where I live, they’re very friendly. Next door they are like my auntie and uncle. I gave them my house key, and they gave their house key to me. If there is any problem I help them out. I do the shopping for them, I do the gardening for them. They are really nice.

I am working as a driver. I started volunteering at BUDS which looks after people with dementia. When I started, there were two Indian people that had dementia and they were going to their club. My neighbour was working there and he asked me to go and help out.

I start there doing one day and then two days. So I started that and I started doing a driving job driving their minibus.  Then in 2019 ASRA contacted me and said they needed a driver and I said yes.  So I'm working there now. I love working with the old people, they are all nice and I love helping them.

I am getting paid for working there, so it's not voluntary. But I love it when I go there and they are so happy to see you and they are telling you their stories. My reward is not just that I get paid, but I have a really good connection with them. They are like my family. They are all different. It makes you feel that you are wanted. And you are helping them.

I do lots of things for people too. I take some people to go swimming. In my community, I know them, and if they ask me if they need anything I just do if I can.  In our community, we are all very friendly. We just talk to them and if they have got any problem, it doesn't matter if they are young or old, we just talk to them and do what we can to help them. So many people these days are lonely at home. I often go to my next-door neighbours who are in their eighties and they're always asking me, “come on have a cup of tea”. I just go to sit with them and just talk with them.

A community needs a mix of all different people. We have to mix with others, get to know them and learn from them. It's nice to be together. I feel I belong here. It's a very nice feeling when where you are living you know the people all around you. I feel like Smethwick is my home.

I think the most important thing is to care about others and to respect others. It does not matter if they are young or old. What you do for others you will get back.

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