This post is part of a series of blog posts introducing the multiple migrant communities living in London.
Almost everyone in London knows one or two good spot for Mexican or Peruvian food, enjoys the yearly parade of Afro-latino communities in the Notting Hill Carnival or has enjoyed a good book from the finest Latin American writers. But how well do you know your “vecinos”?
More Latinos in the UK than you imagine
No one knows exactly how many Latin Americans live in the UK, but some estimations from 2008 indicate that from the approximate 186,500 in the United Kingdom around 113,500 live in London. Comparing this number with data from 2001, the community has multiplied nearly four times in recent years, making it one of the fastest-growing communities in the UK.
If you still need more proof on how quickly the community has grown, just visit the main places where the community meet, socialise and do business, such as Elephant and Castle – particularly, Tiendas del Sur -, Pueblito Paisa in Seven Sisters or even Brixton Market. You’ll be surprised not just by the numbers, but also by how dynamic the community is in London.
The community is open for business
Latin Americans are a hard-working community, with an employment rate higher than 80%. In recent years, London has seen an increase in Latino-run businesses that cater for both Latin Americans and other communities in the UK. You can read some of their stories and how they set up successful businesses from Mariana Ciancio, freelance writer at Migreat.
Since the crisis shook the European economies, the UK looks more and more to Latin America to invest and create new business relationships. The Latin American community in the UK is now looking for the opportunity to serve as a bridge between both economies and lead UK investors to new markets in their countries.
A Latino footprint to the City
Latin Americans are seen as cheerful and colorful people, and despite this view being mostly a stereotype, there’s some truth in it. The community has been able to create spaces where they can express its particular joie de vivre in this too often isolating city. Every year, the community holds important events such as film, theatre and food festivals and even its very own Carnival, that after a break is due to continue next year.
A very active community, Latin Americans have a profound influence on London’s nightlife, especially around Brixton and Notting Hill.
A community fitting well in London’s multicultural character
Latin Americans tend to enjoy London multiculturalism because they are themselves a very diverse community: while some Latinos consider themselves white, there’s an important proportion that proudly expresses their afrodescendent and/or indigenous roots.
Race aside, Latin Americans’ migration journeys are very diverse. While some came directly to London to study, a growing number of them migrated from regions of Europe where job opportunities have become scarce after the economic recession. And let’s not forget, of course, the varied nationalities Latinos represent; Brazilians and Colombians being the most commonly found in London.
Despite clear differences to the British and other migrant communities, Latin Americans have created local connections and made themselves recognised as fully part of London’s street identity.
At Migreat, we support the integration of migrants within their local neighborhood. Beatriz curates and writes news and guides for Latin Americans about events, local services and offers. The community available on the platform is also useful to answer questions that newly arrived migrants may have related to residency, how to meet people and make new friends and generally have fun in the UK.
If you are new to London or interested in the community, visit us at Migreat Latinos and be part of our growing community!