Migrants, Multiculture

Not so homely for Latinos in London

“Take research findings forward, use as evidence” urges Trust for London and LAWRS

Poorna Rodrigo

This city is increasingly becoming home to Latin Americans midst a fourfold increase since 2001. But not many are feeling homely in this big multicultural city, faced with discrimination.

Shocking revelations over the Latinos in London came out in the most comprehensive report done about them so far, last month, which was widely covered in the media.

Almost 70 percent of Latinos including second generation English fluent sectors say they are discriminated, marginalized from the wider British society.

They are faced with multiple barriers, with low paid jobs, lack of English knowledge, and  difficulties in integrating into the culture, a report called “No Longer Invisible” conducted by the Queens Mary University of London reads.

The two charity organizations who commissioned the report, the Trust for London – an organization fighting poverty and inequality in the city and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) have now urged the people to take the findings forward.

“We call this information ammunition. Evidence for people to take it forward,” Rachael Takens’mine, Grants Manager of Trust for London told the Prisma newspaper, on the content of the report.

“It needs to be owned by the community and for people to use it,” she said.

Frances Carlisle, director of LAWRS called the study “a great step forward for the community.”

“LAWRS and other Latin American organizations will be using the report’s recommendations to lobby for action locally and nationally,” she told the Prisma newspaper.

She expressed hope “it will be the first of many to achieve greater recognition and rights for Latin Americans in London.”

As part of its efforts to draw attention a “Campaign Coalition” meeting for Latin American organizations who want to join them in lobbying for action is slated for July 7 in London, she added.

Among its findings, the report cites “an estimated figure of 113,500 Latin Americans in 2008 making them a significant part of the city’s population, comparable in size to other large and migrant ethnic groups such as the Polish population which numbers around 122,000.”

And it is a four-fold increase of Latinos since 2001.

Of them Brazilians are among the largest national groups followed by Colombians. There are also large numbers of Ecuadorians, Bolivians and Peruvians.

Drawing from a large quantitative survey, of over 1,000 Latin Americans living in London, the research says this largely young and well educated community has a very high employment rate of 85%.

Yet more than half are employed in “low-skilled and low-paid jobs in cleaning, catering and hospitality services,” despite previous careers such as teaching, accountancy, engineering and social work.

Over 40% of Latin Americans experience workplace abuse and exploitation.

Nearly 11% of Latin American workers are illegally paid below the National Minimum Wage, which is 10 times higher than the average rate for the UK population (1.1%).

However, their take-up of public services and state benefits is low: “1 in 5 Latin Americans have never been to a GP, 6 out of 10 have never been to a dentist in the UK and only 1 in 5 receives some form of state welfare benefit” (which are primarily in-work benefits such as tax credits), the report notes.

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