IT must be a terrible feeling to be told you have to apply to be allowed to stay somewhere you’ve considered home for all or most of your life. I’ve heard it said by those who defend the UK Government’s settled status scheme that it’s “no big deal”, “a formality”, it’s “necessary”. Well, it’s not necessary, and it’s no formality.

I’ve just signed off some 500-plus letters to constituents who are EU nationals. It’s to make them aware of Scotland’s new advice service for those who may be affected by the changes in immigration rules due to Brexit. As always our local Citizens Advice Bureau is on hand to look after the interests of local people. I’ll repeat that – local people.

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I’m grudgingly pleased that the Prime Minister eventually scrapped the intended £65 fee for the scheme, though I’m still raging that local people have to jump through hoops to prove they have the right to live, work and contribute to Scotland – their home. Some have lived here for decades. Some are workers paying national insurance and income tax, others are running successful businesses and employing others. All are EU nationals covered by an agreement allowing freedom of movement, and thus the ability to retain one’s own nationality.

My grandfather settled in Glasgow from Liguria, Italy (pictured), in the 1920s, one of many Ligurians who settled here around that time. He worked very hard all his life, in chip shops and cafes, raising his family and helping others over the years. Grandpa considered Scotland his home, his children and grandchildren Scottish. He was still Italian, though. He loved the culture of the country of his birth, and delighted in cooking and serving the best of food. He loved Scotland too, and contributed financially and socially to his adoptive land all his life. Were he alive today, he would describe himself as an Italo-Scot and would have an Italian passport.

If Antonio Fabiani were alive today, however, he would be having to fill in the UK Government’s settled status application. He would be confused, humiliated, angry perhaps, certainly hurt. I’ve been thinking about my grandfather a lot. Every time an elderly person originally from Italy tells me how sad they feel; whenever a younger worker from Poland wants advice; when a constituent, pleased to be Dutch but has lived here since childhood, explains how frustrated he feels.

I’ve also been thinking about myself a lot lately, about some of my strong reactions to Brexit and how helpless I feel in the face of an intransigent UK Government. I’m Scottish through and through, with a bit of Italian I’m delighted to have. I’m blessed to have my family enriched by those from overseas.

Things bother me – unfairness, inequality, the bad things that happen in the world. When the Windrush scandal broke last year, I was outraged. I couldn’t get my head round how this could happen – folks denied benefits or medical care, losing their jobs and homes. The sorrow, the isolation, the devastation of lives. I couldn’t stop thinking about these people who had lived in England for so many, many years, and who were now being told that they were never really welcome. The hostile environment imposed by the UK Government had become such that asylum seekers and refugees were no longer the only ones so appallingly treated. Now long-term friends and neighbours were being told: “You were useful for a while, but actually you were never one of us – cheerio then”.

I couldn’t sleep for thinking about the Windrush generation and the treatment being meted out. It was like when asylum seekers were being rounded up and detained in Dungavel initially – I felt physically sick. Then a friend gently pointed out to me that while we like to believe we are altruistic in our thinking, if it affects those close to you,then it cuts deeper. “After all,” she said, “Caribbean immigrants, Italian immigrants – that could have been your grandfather and his contemporaries before we were all European.” Aye.

Soon we won’t “all be European”, despite Scotland voting Remain. Many of us will feel sore that, aside from the big issues affecting the whole country, some of the personal benefits that EU membership brought us will disappear. For some, though, it’s more than that; it’s being told you have to apply for the right to live in your home, to stay with your family and your friends, to continue to study or work here, to remain in Scotland. I believe that is a big deal.

Linda Fabiani is the MSP for East Kilbride