The Coalition of Latin Americans in the UK (CLAUK) was established during a period when the UK adopted hostile environment policies for migrants. This resulted in funding cuts and shrinking civic spaces for community organisations.
This was compounded by all of the circumstances that accompanies the diaspora, whatever the reasons for leaving their homeland. Loneliness, lack of knowledge of the language, discrimination, xenophobia, living without being regularised (‘without papers’) in a country whose culture is totally different, where they had, have and will have to start a new life and fight not to forget the one they had.
During its lifetime, CLAUK has been close to these immigrants through various organisations whose long trajectory in different areas allows them to help the community in its different needs. This has allowed CLAUK to become a key organisation to make Latin Americans visible in the United Kingdom.
The Prisma, which is part of this coalition, brings together in this Special Edition, the voices of all the organisations that make up the coalition, allowing us to know the achievements, challenges, difficulties and purposes of each one of them and therefore, those of Latin American immigrants.
It was in 2012 that the Coalition of Latin Americans in the UK (CLAUK) was established to address the complex needs of Latin Americans living in the UK.
Driven by the belief that all Latin Americans in the UK deserve to ﬂourish and live with dignity, the coalition was the result of the collaborative efforts of various Latin American organisations within the voluntary sector.
These aimed to work collectively to address the recommendations put forth in the research project “No Longer Invisible” (2011), commissioned by one of the coalition members, the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS), in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Trust for London.
The “No Longer Invisible” report identified several critical needs for the Latin American community in the UK, including representation in ethnic monitoring forms, regularising the immigration status of Latin American migrants, improving employment rights, and advocating for better access to public services and benefits.
Over the past decade, it has made significant strides in addressing these urgent areas by running awareness campaigns on issues like Covid-19, mental health, and employment rights, and implementing projects to provide information about essential services such as “Register with a GP” and “Let’s Stop HIV.” This work has enabled thousands in the Latin American community to access these vital resources.
Additionally, it has been instrumental in increasing civic engagement and participation through voter registration campaigns and hustings during local and national elections since 2012. The coalition’s most notable achievement has been the official recognition and inclusion of the “Latin American” category in ethnic monitoring forms in areas with a significant Latin American population, such as the London Boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Hackney, Islington, and the Greater London Authority.
- Formation of the first coalition in the UK focused on Latin Americans, uniting various community organisations to advocate for the needs of this
- Over 35 years of experience in supporting Latin American communities in the UK, building trust and expertise.
- Successful advocacy efforts during crucial moments such as Covid-19 and
- Official recognition of Latin Americans in public institutions in London Boroughs and the Greater London Authority, addressing the issue of insufficient data and the invisibility of Latin Americans in the UK.
- Informing and inﬂuencing local political parties, increasing Latin American representation, and improving knowledge among statutory agencies about the community’s needs.
- Raising awareness about physical and mental health, HIV prevention, mental health, and LGBTQIA+ inclusion within the Latin American
- Promoting civic participation and providing information in community languages to overcome language barriers. Running campaigns to inform Latin Americans about their voting rights and labour rights.
- Collaborating with mainstream trade unions and labour-focused groups to inform and organise Latin American workers.
- Serving as a resource for community organisations through information sharing, training, and partnership work.
Challenges and the Path Forward
CLAUK was established during a period when the UK adopted hostile environment policies for migrants, resulting in funding cuts and shrinking civic spaces for community organisations. The anti-migrant rhetoric during the Brexit referendum exacerbated the challenges for underrepresented communities such as Latin Americans.
Today, the UK faces a more complex environment with sector-specific challenges. CLAUK acknowledges the need to come together and organise effectively to address these intricacies. Latin American communities confront structural inequalities, from immigration status to racial and ethnic disparities, poverty, and labour exploitation. As community organisations committed to fighting inequalities, CLAUK continually assesses the best path forward, seeking stability and resources to expand collective efforts beyond current limitations.
Determined to extend their reach beyond London, covering the North of England, Scotland, and Wales, CLAUK has the ambition to further multiply their efforts and become a platform for the collective voice that can include the new community groups that have emerged in the last decade.
The coalition firmly believes that collective strength grows when working together, and they eagerly look forward to welcoming more members soon.
Together, Latin American-led groups can make a lasting impact that encompasses all Latin American communities in the UK.
Special Edition – CLAUK 10 Years
- 10 years of CLAUK: feeling, living and supporting Latino migrants
- Pioneers in defence of London’s Latin Quarter
- A house open to immigrants
- For a world free of violence against women and children
- Pioneering journalism by and for migrants
- A shared history of enduring solidarity
- Supporting Latin Americans in the North West
- Caring for the emotional health of the diaspora