English classes: the key to integration

by Dr Jenny Philimore For many years now politicians and the tabloids have pointed to so-called self-segregation of migrants and their alleged reluctance to speak English as responsible for their lack of integration into economy and society in the UK. As a result much policy focus has been placed on trying to encourage cross-community connections and linking applications for citizenship to ability to speak English. New research from the Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham, and the University of Cardiff provides evidence showing that for refugees at least, there is no reality behind the rhetoric. Using survey data – the [more]

Latin American Regimes

  An overview of a troubled past   By Tania Farias “From the deep crucible of the homeland. The people's voices rise up. The new day comes over the horizon. All Chile breaks out in song…” claims the first verse of We Will Triumph, a supporting song for the Popular Unity coalition led by Salvador Allende in Chile. According to the Revolutionary Democracy journal (2003) the Chilean songwriter and activist Víctor Jara sang this song defiantly after having been violently tortured in the Chilean Stadium (renamed later Víctor Jara Stadium). He had been arrested – and five days later assassinated - because of his [more]

Asylum seeker pregnancy: a very sad situation

By Tania Farias Pregnancy is a very special state for a woman, one which requires complex and specialist care to assure the well–being of both, the mother and the unborn child. Pregnancy is also a time to share and be cheerful with family and friends. However, not every woman can enjoy such a protective support and some of them are exposed to very unstable situations. A pregnant asylum seeker under the support of sections 4, 95 or 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 will be offered accommodation and financial support but she won’t be exempt from UKBA dispersal policies, meaning [more]

Reflections: Through the eyes of a refugee

By Mercedes What do I hear when I listen to the city, when I look to the future in this place that surrounds me? I see a neighbourhood of multiple languages, cultures, sounds, and fragrances. I see a woman wishing to tell the city that she and her child crossed the ocean and several continents to feel secure. She did not want to hear the screams of people running from the effects of war, hunger and disease. She wants to explain that she doesn’t understand what happened. Her town was peaceful before the modern tanks and men in strange clothes speaking strange [more]

Each journey entails a hundred possibilities

By Kate Monkhouse Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) works with refugees and other forcibly displaced people, promoting their rights and providing a range of direct services. In London, JRS UK runs a weekly day centre at its base in Wapping, where each week up to 120 refugees come for lunch, some practical help and to share the joys and sadness of life in this country. In carrying out its activities JRS UK works in partnership with like-minded organisations, such as English PEN, a free speech and literature charity that campaigns to defend and promote free expression. English PEN’s trainers have run several creative [more]

From Sri Lanka With Surgical Skills

Vicky Ilankovan interviews her father Since I was eight I wanted to be a doctor. I still remember using pencils as injection cylinders and giving people sachets of powder from the kitchen to make them feel better. The concept of doing something to help people has always fascinated me. However, the year that I was to enter medical school in Sri Lanka was the year the policy of standardisation came into force. This meant that Tamils needed substantially higher marks than Sinhalese in order to get into university. For example, Tamils needed 250 points to get into medical school whereas the Sinhalese [more]


Camden Lock Market: A taste of the world, a recipe for success

By Georgie Knaggs

Joe Timur of Sonita’s Kitchen in the West Yard of Camden Lock Market. Photo by Georgie Knaggs.

Camden Lock Market, one of London’s most popular craft markets, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The market is one of the many in Camden that together receive some 15m visitors each year. The job of feeding these crowds falls in part to the chefs in the West Yard. Here the cooking is personal – recipes are learned at home and flavoured with tastes from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Take for example Sonita’s Kitchen, run by Joe and Sonita Timur. Joe, born in Turkey, is half Turkish and half English while his wife is from the Punjab state in northwest India. They sell fragrant, delicately spiced curries cooked without butter or ghee.

“It’s a really good market because it’s known as a food market,” says Joe Timur. “People come here specifically to eat.”

The West Yard at weekends probably hosts a sample of the whole world to a lunch break with visitors and stallholders alike.

A little further along, Danish Mirza, the chef from Food in the Middle, is a chartered accountant from Pakistan. He worked in the City for eight years but now he sells paratha wraps, a popular street food in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

“I always wanted to do my own thing,” he explains. “Karachi is a cosmopolitan city and people are always on the run,” adds Mirza. “They are getting your traditional tikka and selling it in wraps. I went one step further and took my food, which is much healthier than street food, and put that into wraps.”

The West Yard has an ever-changing selection of food.  On some days, within the space of a couple of hundred yards, there will be the saffron colours of Spanish paella across from bright piles of French macaroons.  Barbecued Turkish kebabs might be found next to a pitch selling cauldrons of fresh English soup.  The macaroni and cheese stall advertising a dessert of deep-fried Oreos might rub shoulders with the wide front of the Chinese stall selling dumplings and noodles.  There might be Italian pizza, Jamaican jerk wraps, Japanese sushi, sweet French crepes, and to finish it all there will almost always be the warmth of Ethiopian coffee.