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]


British Kosovar Albanian’s celebrate independence

By Remzije Duli

More than 240 people from the Kosovar Albanian community in London celebrated the fourth anniversary of the Independence of Kosovo on February 23rd with a fun-packed event organised and run by the British Albanian Kosovar Council (BAKC) and British young people of Kosovar Albanian heritage.

The free event brought together family and friends of these young people. It featured a short drama written and performed by the boys of the Kosovar club at Parliament Hill School and a traditional Kosovar Albanian dance. Attendees came from across North London, where a great number of Kosovar Albanians live.

“We are trying to raise awareness about the need for more positive activities for young people,” said a young Kosovar Albanian active with the Kosovar Albanian Youth Against Violence campaign (KAYAV). Supported by BAKC, the campaign works with young people to tackle the threats of crime, violence and gangs in the community. “We also aim to fight the negative stereotypes about youth in society, which have been imposed by the media,” he added.

Every week, the young people of Parliament Hill School and William Ellis School in North London get together in an after school club run by BAKC. There, they find ways to express themselves with positive activities such as performing arts, traditional and contemporary dance, drama in their native Albanian language, sports and media classes.

BAKC works with Kosovar families and young people through programmes such as Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC). SFSC aims to improve parenting skills and promote positive family discipline. This programme helps parents work with their children to keep them safe, and supports them so they can make an impact on their neighbourhoods, while enhancing and retaining their history, culture and heritage.

“The importance of retaining the ethnic, cultural, family and spiritual roots is the driving force behind our attitudes, beliefs and behaviour as a community,” explained Beqir Shillova, a parent present at the event and a SFSC volunteer facilitator for BAKC. “We must encourage our young people to take part in the Kosova Club regularly and be able to showcase their work like tonight, where they celebrated the fourth anniversary of the independence of their country and were able to share their values and experiences with their friends from other communities within the school.”

In the past, BAKC has supported British young people with Kosovar Albanian backgrounds to organise similar events, with the aim to raise their voice against gangs, crimes and violence.

More information can be found at the KAYAV Campaign website and Facebook page and on the British Albanian Kosovar Council website.