Tag Archives: UK migrants

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!

Migrants Contribute Event Recap: Time to get Social :)

On October 24th, Migrant organisation leaders and supporters gathered at Migreat office to work on Migrants Contribute Campaign‘s next steps. LAWRS (Latin American Women Rights Service) led the group to think actions following an introduction the campaign missions and a presentation by Migreat on how to campaign online and spread it across social media. Here a quick recap in pictures.

Introduction to the workshop
The meeting brought a variety of people coming from all ages and backgrounds

The campaign was introduced by Lucila from LAWRS to the new faces that joined that morning. Migrants Contribute is a grass-root campaign, led by UK migrant organisations and calling anyone interested in the immigration debate to join. As Lucila said on the day: “This campaign can never reach its goals unless it is led by every one of us, (…). If there are actions you would like to take on, please reach out!”

Presentation from Lucila
Lucila from LAWRS presenting the campaign first steps

The campaign aims at raising the visibility of the contribution migrants have made to the UK, and call on politicians and media to change the current negative discourse. “MigrantsContribute does not want to react and reply to the negative discourse. Instead MigrantsContribute campaign is here to create a new narrative to inform the debate from a different angle, a constructive one.” stated Lucila.

Bringing Migrants Contribute Campaign online and on Home screen
Bringing Migrants Contribute Campaign online and on Home screen

On the day, leaders and supporters shared knowledge of what had been done so far – the events, the website and the setting up of social media accounts –  and what could be done next: Migreat started a practical conversation on how to take advantage of these current assets to bring the campaign online on social media.

Half way through the meeting, the group split in three groups to think specific actions that could take the campaign to the mass and in the hands of migrants, leading the campaign closer to its ideal of a migrant led campaign.

Migreat Community Manager
Priya, Community Manager at Migreat, sharing her knowledge about Community building online

Three areas of work were discussed: a social media campaign. A campaign of stickers for migrant owned restaurants. A research and reach out to high profile individuals to become ambassadors of the campaign. All of this in the aim to gather a diverse pool of actors and places from where to speak out the reality of migrants and immigration in the UK.

From the meeting on the day, the group mentioned various initiatives already happening that the campaign could join. A list of related events has been made available on Migrants Contribute website. Lucila invited anyone interested in the campaign to add theirs too: “ we want you to take #MigrantsContribute campaign to where they think it can be useful and constructive.”

Migrant contribute campaign twitter
The Campaign Twitter created a lot of online interest on the day

The campaign is running since September and until the UK Elections. The group meets monthly for similar training and working group sessions, and it is open to new participants who are eager to make change happen. From December onwards, expect more public activities such as a Migrants Day Celebration, a call for politicians and press to commit to a fairer portrayal of migrants, and much more. Migrants and non-migrants, all welcome!

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If you are interested to know more, follow campaign’s Twitter & Facebook accounts and take part in the next event.

South Asians in London

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

Almost impossible to miss the South Asian cultural “vibe” in London. Historical ties and migration patterns have intermingled British and South Asian to such an extent that it is often indistinguishable. Still many traditions like Hindi events in London are highly representative of the original South Asian culture.

Indians celebrating at South bank Center London
Indians shopping at South bank Center Market, London

The largest of all migrant communities in the UK

Probably the most visible migrant community in London for its historical and commercial ties, South Asians in London represent 13% of all Londoners and more than the half of the foreigners residing in London (55%). This is without counting all migrants from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that have become British nationals over time, and all sons and daughters of native South Asian immigrants. Indians are known entrepreneurs and hard workers: Indian nationals top the UK work charts for the highest number of professionals applying for work related visas in the UK and Indian-owned businesses in the UK are said to employ over 100,000 people in Britain.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (Neasden Temple)

The influence they have had over London is huge: from the chai tea tradition, to the spiced chicken masala found at any local supermarket, vibrant neighbourhoods filled with South Asian outfits, tailors, shops and restaurants (with the iconic Brick Lane as one popular example) and Indian inspired buildings in Central London (or even beautiful Hindu temples on the outskirts of London), it is tough not to miss the Indian vibes of London, difficult not to be tempted by a Bollywood night in Mayfair or go take part in one of the many South Asian inspired festivals in London and the UK (with Navratri and Durga Puja just passing, the festival season has only just begun!).

Brick Lane food

What do South Asian Londoners do in London, and how to get to know them better? You might want to ask famous London bloggers Funoon, Manjiri or Irna Qureshi to get an understanding of what being South Asian means for them, as well as how they made London their new home. For sure, they are a different breed of South Asians: just read of 6 things you will miss the most about the UK if you were to return to India or 5 first date ideas for a South Asian in London to understand that one does not experience London the same way when coming from South Asia.

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Find out more about South Asian communities, London’s Diwali and other festivals on Migreat South Asia, Migreat’s new community website bridging migrants with essential information on London.