Tag Archives: London migrant communities

Latin Americans in London: a thriving and lively community embracing multiculturalism

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”?

Ecuadorian women dressed with traditional costume performing during Carnaval del Pueblo. Photo credit: Flickr.com/photos/hozinja
Ecuadorian women dressed with traditional costume performing during Carnaval del Pueblo. Photo credit: Flickr.com/photos/hozinja

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

The Argentinian Noel Alonso created a successful business from her house in Birmingham
The Argentinian Noel Alonso created a successful business from her house in Birmingham

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

Talentos Group is one of the many Latin American groups that spread Latin American culture in the UK
Talentos Group is one of the many Latin American groups that spread Latin American culture in the UK

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.

Blue plaque that commemorates Simón Bolívar trip to London, where he met another key figure in the Independence of Latin America, Franciso de Miranda. The place where they met, Miranda's house, it's now a museum that celebrates the work and life of both distinguished men
Blue plaque that commemorates Simón Bolívar trip to London, where he met another key figure in the Independence of Latin America, Franciso de Miranda. The place where they met, Miranda’s house, it’s now a museum that celebrates the work and life of both distinguished men

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.

 

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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!

Africans in London

This post is part of a series of blog posts introducing multiple migrant communities living in London.

The colours, cultures and vibes of London’s trendy African communities can be found at every corner. It is especially true for Nigerian, Ghanaian and South African migrants for which London has continuously been considered a recreation playground. Find out more about London’s lively African community below – or meet them on Migreat at ‘Africans in London’.

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A Culturally Diverse and Lively Community

It is estimated that there are over 2,000,000 ‘British-African’ and people of African descent living in the UK with over 600,000 African migrants living in London. Yoruba, Swahili, Hausa, Twi, Lingala, Somali and Afrikaans are the main African languages spoken in the capital with the inevitable French and Portuguese representing the Francophone and Lusophone brothers and sisters. From the stylish occasional wear outfits to the afrobeat dancing and eating jollof rice; the lively African vibes have been established in Peckham, Thamesmead and Harlesden. To hear voiceful Nigerian and Ghanaians, get up early and go to churches on Sundays in Camberwell or around Stoke Newington. At nights and in restaurants in Brixton or Elephant and Castle, it is easy to see how African ‘interminglings’ with British culture has made the UK capital a nice playground for the community.

Old and New Migration Paths

Migrants from the fascinating African continent have settled in London decades ago; however a new wave of African migrants are being well received into the capital. Numerous Somali migrants have come from Somalia with others moving away from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Netherlands. Many are refugee and asylum seekers along with those who are naturalised citizens. A similar story can be said of Congolese and Côte d’Ivoire migrants who are coming to London from France, Belgium and Portugal. Many represent the second and third generation of Africans who settled in Europe over half a century earlier.

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Though they represent a fraction; EU migrants of African origin are regarded in statistics as EU migrants. For example; there has been a gradual increase in the number Ghanaian migrants coming to the UK from Germany (who represent the largest migrant group from sub-Saharan Africa in Germany). Likewise Angolan, Cape Verde and Guinean communities coming from Portugal (Angolans in Portugal form the country’s second-largest group of African migrants, after Cape Verdeans) and can be found in Harlseden, Lambeth, Westminster. There are over 20,000 Portuguese speaking African migrants in London alone with Cape Verde and Angola being the main represented nationalities. Today’s Modern African Londoners Times have changed for London’s African communities since the ‘commonwealth’ migration era of the 1970s and 1980s. African and Caribbean communities have continued to grow even under the current conservative immigration rules. With established second and third generation black communities; the British habits that once took many Africans by surprise are diminishing as Africans are finally getting their cultures recognised and celebrated as part of London’s identity.

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Who are the African migrants in London and how can you get to know them better? For for the latest gist and tips surrounding the growth of African fashion in London; checkout the famous Mariam Bashorun.  To get an understanding of what an African ‘Londoner’ looks like and is challenged by; checkout HausaFulani, (an innovative Fulani Nigerian woman who moved to Nigeria and then moved back to the UK). To get to know more about the local communities and if you want to move to London yourself, you surely want to read the 10 things Africans need to know before coming to London and what are the stereotypes to expect, if any!

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Migreat’s African Communities Manager Tholani has written about where to find a good Nigerian tailor, the best community centres and event decorators for those special occasions and many more tips for African migrants in London. Check all this out on Migreat for Africans and don’t hesitate to say hello on @MigreatAF

Romanians in London: a Vibrant Community Defying Media Stereotypes

This post is part of a series of blog posts introducing the multiple migrant communities living in London.

Who are the Romanians in London and are they really all coming to London massively this year like the UK press advertised last January to flee their country? Find out more about the Romanians in London and the lovely bunch they are below – or just meet them on Români în Londra!

Romanian Protest in London to save Rosia Montana
Romanian Protest in London to save Rosia Montana

A close-knit community 

Romanian migrants have recently attracted disproportionate attention from UK media for they just got free access to the UK job market in 2014. They are one of the smallest migrant group in the UK (if one wants to compare to French, Spanish or German migrants) with only 45,000 of them based in London, and one of the European migrant group the least likely to chose London as a destination to live, often preferring Italy, Germany and France for geographical and language reasons.

Against all stereotypes, Romanians residing in London are often highly skilled workers decided to settle in the country rather than just stay for temporary seasonal work. One website made up by a Romanian and Bulgarian, Beggars.co recently set up, makes fun of the stereotype.

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Freedom can be sensed among the romanian community since the restrictions have been lifted: with a flourishing cultural and entertainment scene, a fast spreading of the traditional cuisine, by more and more romanian restaurants and shops opened all across London, romanians finally get their share in the diversity of London cultures.

A fun bunch, one can often spot them at a march, or a crazy party in London. And you can be sure to meet them at the cultural events organised so often at the Romanian Cultural Centre.

At Sharehoods, we want to bring visibility to the Romanian community online. Feel free to reach out to Georgiana from Români în Londra to get involved in the future, with mapping the community and digging out information about the vibrant Romanian London Diaspora.

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Find out more about Romanians in London on Români în Londra, Migreat’s new community website bridging migrants with essential information on London.

London Migrant Communities: a city made and moved by migrants

London is the world city of opportunity in 2014 for the first time, ahead of New York, Singapore and Paris according to Price Waterhouse Cooper’s cities of opportunities” index.

Liverpool Street Station Rush Hour Crowd (1)

This reputation does not make London less intimidating and difficult for migrants to move to: the language, the cultural shock and pace at which daily life goes can unsettle many. Find out more below about what makes London a land of opportunity for migrants and how many chose to make it their home.

A City of Migrants

In 2011, a total of 471,648 people migrated to the UK for work, family or study reasons excluding tourism. London captures most of the traffic: in 2011, 35% of its total population was made of foreign born individuals.  The recent conservative tone on immigration has not stopped foreigners from loving  London. With 2,779,000 migrants settled and living in the capital, London is still keeping attractive and recognised worldwide for cultural diversity and tolerance (the UK beats all other countries in comparison in terms of diversity levels); Europeans are still moving in: the number of Greeks and Spaniards registered for a national insurance number has doubled in the last years.

 

Migrant in 2011

This diversity is reflected in London’s vibrant migrant communities, a product of UK’s colonial past, current commonwealth ties and its geographical proximity to continental Europe. Indians, Poles and Bangladeshis are the three largest migrant community found in London, closely followed by Nigerians, Irish and Pakistanis (numbers are taken from the 2011 census and labour market survey). This official data roughly draws a picture of London’s diverse migrant population but, as many Londoners know, it cannot capture the reality of the many french, Americans, Australians or Indians that have come here and never registered officially living here via the Census; or just became British Citizens.

Migrant in London statistics

Migrant communities live by pockets widespread all over London with majors hubs around Brixton (settled Caribbean and Latino migrant communities), Hammersmith (recent Polish communities), Brick Lane (Bangladeshi and South Asian old migrant families) or Edgware road (Middle Eastern new and old migrants).

The pace at which neighbourhoods change identity and population is unpredictable in London. The favourite hangout of Frenchies and Americans has long been South Kensington but it is now challenged by a rapid migration of them to the trendy East London in the recent years. An interactive map tracking the tweets sent by Londoners and in which language is your best option to follow where migrants choose to live their lives. Too bad the polish language is not yet tracked on it: if it was the map would show how Polish has become the second most spoken language in the UK.

London Tweets per language map

London’s Migrant Voices

If London offers plenty of solutions to live exactly like at home, life of a migrant in its first days is not that bright and blue. Newcomers to London often suffer from the lack of a supportive network of peers and access to trusted info. Luckily, the internet has made it easier today. There is a new app for newcomers to the city everyday offering to navigate the city or meet people, and many migrants have started blogging to share their experience of London.

Qatari Tahani Al-hajri is a famous arabic London blogger writing in arabic about her cultural experiences in London. She offers great help and advice to her readers on how to navigate the big and busy London.

Similarly, Tamarind and Thyme is a blog started by a Kuala Lumpur lady who decided to write about eating well “without going broke”.  Her blog is full of reviews of restaurants and how to find the ingredients to cook foreign meals at home.

Talking about food, if you want to taste London like a local, there is no better blogger than Curious London to make you do it: the British lady behind it will break any rule and limit to truly report what London is about: opportunities and doing things you never thought you would(like getting up at 6am to have breakfast at the Duck & Wafle…).

Finally, some bloggers choose to share the less good parts of their migration experience. Read the funny six things indian students regret after coming to the UK or how to deal with stereotypes when you are from Nigeria which are worth reading before making the move to London!

London Busy streets

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Moving to London is never a simple move. At Migreat, we  support the integration of new and old migrants in the London realm. Our online multi-language platform provides access to essential information about settling down and connect migrants with locals that made it here before.

Either you are new in town or have lived here for ages, we invite you to discover the multiple aspects of London and see it from a different perspective have a go at migreat.co.uk and meet with your community!

Follow our series of blog posts presenting the different migrant communities and their neighbourhoods in the next coming weeks from the Migrant Voice Section.