Casa Latina, also known as the Latin American House, was founded in London four decades ago. Its purpose: to strengthen and support the Latin American immigrant diaspora in the United Kingdom. It has since become a beacon of hope and solidarity for thousands of people who came looking for refuge, opportunities and a better life.
This organisation has been an important pillar of the Latin American community in London. Its permanent work to strengthen and support immigrants and refugees has left a positive impact on thousands of lives, promoting inclusion, equality and the celebration of Latin American culture in the United Kingdom.
Although it faces challenges, its commitment and dedication keep it firm in its mission to build a better future for all the Latin Americans who call London home. Its story began decades ago, in 1983, when a committed group of activists and Latin American community leaders realised the need to create a space where immigrants and refugees could find assistance, resources and mutual support. The main purpose was to provide a support network to face the challenges involved in a change of country and insertion in new surroundings.
They were conscious that the Latin American community had to face barriers caused by not speaking the language, difficulties accessing services offered by the British government, discrimination and exploitation in the labour market, among other things.
And so it was, in response to these difficulties, that Casa Latina came into being. Its objective: to empower immigrants and refugees to have decent and bearable lives during their stay in the United Kingdom (temporary or permanent), principally in London.
From its beginnings, the organisation set clear aims: to furnish legal advice and support on subjects related to migration, offer health and wellbeing services, work for gender equality and the empowerment of women, and promote and celebrate Latin America through cultural and educational activities. As time went on, Casa Latina broadened its reach and as a result today it provides support in areas like mental and sexual health and advises on welfare benefits and employment matters. It also offers childcare, support for young people, professional development and skills training to widen employment options and improve family finances.
It has faced failures and frustrations, but it has learnt from them and carried on with renewed determination. In the face of challenges, the organisation has known how to adapt and continue its work for the wellbeing of the community it represents.
Impacting on a diverse world
The community that comes together at Casa Latina is diverse and committed and includes, in addition to the thousands of beneficiaries with roots in nations throughout the region, a team of volunteers, activists and professionals who devote, without exception, their time and effort to drive the projects and services forward.
The organisation has created and participated in a variety of campaigns, from those that seek to raise awareness of and defend immigrants’ rights to others that promote inclusion and cultural diversity in London. Its impact on the community has been significant: it has provided advice and services to thousands of people, improved their living standards and helped them integrate and prosper in British society.
For these very reasons, the actions and activities have established a relationship of trust with the community, which has been key to its positive impact.
One of the biggest challenges it has faced has been securing sustainable funding to maintain and expand its programmes and services.
It receives support from different sources including government subsidies and foundation grants and, to a lesser extent, solidarity contributions from individuals who believe in its mission or who voluntarily pay for services received.
On the other hand, the organisation is the guardian of one of the community’s most valuable physical resources: its headquarters, which allows it to generate its own income by renting out its spaces.
Relative to other organisations, Casa Latina is one of the principal bodies that works for the Latin American community in London and that fact, as their members say, demands more support and collaboration from them to tackle the challenges faced by disadvantaged Latin Americans in the British capital.
The ways it has become known vary: word of mouth, recommendations from friends and relatives, direct promotion at community events and through its website where it promotes its services and events.
(Translated by Philip Walker – Email: email@example.com) – Photos: Pixabay
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