A Woodford Green woman has made it her mission to challenge stereotypes of her fellow Romanians.
Madeline Bulgaru, 27, lives with her partner and their baby in Chigwell Road.
The trained veterinary assistant has lived in Britain since 2010 and has set up Nascut in UK, a support group for Romanian people which she also hopes will dispel a few myths.
Last Saturday she organised a Spring Fair at St Paul’s Church in Woodford Bridge to promote Romanian culture.
She said: “People think all Romanians are burglars or beggars, but it’s not true and I want to show English people that.
“The main purpose of Saturday’s event was to show the positive side of Romanian culture, because all we ever seem to hear is how bad Romanian people are.”
Warnings that Britain could be flooded with Romanian migrants when the EU lifts restrictions in 2014 have been splashed across the national newspapers in recent weeks.
Think tank, Migration Watch, predicts about 50,000 people from Romania and Bulgaria will come to Britain when the new rules come in.
But Miss Bulgaru says she would be surprised if the numbers are anywhere near those levels.
She said: “The average wage in Romania is £100 a month. It is just too expensive for that many people to get over here.
“It just seems to be another way to make people scared. They think we are all here to live on benefits, but it isn’t true. Britain is not the heaven that people say it is for immigrants.
“My partner and I don’t claim benefit. We work hard and pay taxes and we are in privately rented accommodation.”
Through Nascut, Miss Bulgaru hopes to be able to offer Romanian people advice on issues including education and housing.
Fellow Romanian Alina Gopaul, 31,lives in Roding Lane North.
She runs a Romanian restaurant in Edmonton and cooked up some traditional Romanian food for Saturday’s fair.
She said: “I have been here for 16 years and worked extremely hard to build up my business.
“The vast majority of Romanian people are very hard working and have a positive contribution to make to this country.
“On Saturday I was inviting British people in to try some of our food and talk to us.
“There is so much negative publicity about Romanian people out there. We just want to show that we are not like the stereotypes you read about in your papers.”