London Migration Film Festival Review

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A Review of the Opening Night 2017

Well, the Mayor’s slogan is” London is Open” and the opening night of the film festival on Thurdsday, 30th November, really showed that. It was held in an old fire station which, of course, is not heated and it was freezing.  This did not deter Londoners, there must have easily been about 500 people there.

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It showed how Londoners think about the issues of migration.  The Migration Collective who organised the event said they wanted to change the narrative from thinking about migrants as enemies or victims to people who have interesting stories to tell.  We agree at TogetherintheUk, as we also want to discover and share people’s insights. The Migration Collective also showed humility – they thought that maybe they would have 50 people to the opening night and here it was, a packed out fire station with long queues for really delicious food.  The wonderful international food was prepared and served by Welcome Kitchen. http://welcomepresents.com/  Check out their monthly events.

Other stalls at the event included Tern – this is an organisation supporting entrepreneurial refugees make their dreams come true (http://www.wearetern.org/  TERN is currently open to new applicants for their programmes. and Threadable. https://www.etsy.com/uk/search/clothing?q=threadable

The entertainment also showed an enormous amount of thought about what it is like to come here and make a life here in the UK, the Phosporous Theatre presented a live drama about a refugee learning how to shop, to live in a centre with others – rules about the fridge as well as the challenging process of gaining a right to stay. A physical dance theatre put on a theatrical piece about human trafficking. Brilliant and very sad. And finally, there was a film, a door opened to the bedroom of 4 different immigrants who sat on their beds and talked about immigration. The one insight that stands out is from a South American man who said that back home, he could call out to women in the street, ’you’re beautiful’ and he says, certainly not here, a comment like that is met with hostility.

I am definitely looking forward to next year’s, I learnt how deeply many different artforms are thinking about immigration and how interested London is, in creating understanding.

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The art scene in the UK

 

IMG_2806At TogetherintheUK, we aim to show different aspects of life in the UK and one of the very joyful aspects is the arts scene. Many towns have their own art galleries, often either giving an insight into history or showing some fantastic, modern art.  In this blog, Kosta shares his excitement at coming across some radical art at the Protein Gallery in Shoreditch, London.

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Last weekend we were lucky to stumble on an amazing exhibition called Riot! Riot! Riot! ,which was curated by Sophia Tassew (@manlikesophia) and backed by Asos Supports Talent. The exhibition was focused on intersectional feminism, sexuality, culture and freedom. There, you could find exhibits by artists such as Joy Miessi (@joymiessi)  who translates moments, feelings, conversations and intimate thoughts into visual pieces, Rene Matic (@bad_gal_rene) who explores themes such sexuality and race through her art as well as Hannah Hill who goes by the name Hanecdote (@hancdote) who specialises in embroidery that looks at race, feminism and grime music.

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Apart from the art exhibition, you could also find magazines that explore and celebrate women sports, to femininity within the Middle Eastern Culture as well as magazines solely created by women of colour.  One of these magazines are Gal-dem , by a creative collective of women of over 70 women and non-binary people of colour which explores topics such as politics, music, arts and fashion through articles and photos. Another magazine available was PUSH magazine which introduces several new UK artists such as House of Pharaohs and Reid as well as older ones like Donae’o.

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An Evening with an Immigrant

evening with an immigrantAt TogetherintheUK, we continue to discover and celebrate the creativity that can come with moving countries, as well as acknowledging the challenges.  In this blog, Shola Jones shares her excitement at hearing Inua Ellams talk about his experience.  He is touring the UK with the show so check out the links at the end of the review to see if you can catch the show.

Review of An Evening with an Immigrant

It was the event I had been waiting for all week, ‘An evening with an immigrant’ written by Inua Ellams (who had already drawn my attention with his mind blowing and immensely entertaining play ‘The Barber Shop chronicles’ at the National Theatre), was finally here at Kilburn’s Tricycle Theatre and I was so very much excited. Myself, a daughter of Caribbean immigrant parents, my life in London was a world apart from their childhood and I devoured any mention they could tell me of this mysterious ‘back home’ they referred to. I was therefore eager to hear Inua’s story; to hear how his path brought him to where he is today. And I wasn’t disappointed. Inua has lived an incredible life. At 33 years old he tells us of his journey from his middle class life in Nigeria, to the difficulties he faced in London and Dublin. Punctuated with his poetry throughout, lyrically captivating and richly layered with his evident wit and charisma the evening flowed effortlessly. I could have been talking with my friend. I really wished he was my friend.
Inua’s story is fascinating and equally gripping. He paints a picture of hard working parents. His father a Muslim and mother a Christian, this was an upbringing that worked organically for him, visiting both churches and mosques, was not out of the ordinary. His memories evoke in you such colour, such culture of life in Africa, you can almost imagine the figures of his family around him on stage. Where his punctuations of mischievous exploits with friends at boarding school or anecdotes of writing poetry with the help of those trusty blue Argos pens have you smiling, laughing, there are times his experiences hit you in a resonating clang of grief. Inua’s story is plagued by loss of his home in Nigeria to the spread of Boko Haram, fleeing and leaving his life, his identity and very being behind. At times, it was hard to watch; the pain still ever so present on his face as his uncertain UK status forever follows him on stage like an ominous dark cloud. The obstacles he faces, the faith in a system that only seems to fail or exploit an immigrant hits hard as you see the toil it takes on his family.
Life does not stand still for Inua however. It would be impossible to stem the talent that spurns from such a young man with the burdens he faces. He is bursting with talent and ready to share it. His poetry skilfully weaves in and out of his stories, always fixing your attention and adding beautifully intricate details to the already expansive journey he describes. Moved by his story was an understatement; I was completely floored by it and felt genuine elation in his conquests to poetry readings, to his scripts leaping to life on stage to meeting the Queen. Despite everything, he shines, shines so incredibly bright. I cannot wait to hear what else he creates because there is no doubt there is more to come from Inua as he continues to keep driving forward. This is one person determined to keep going despite walking deep into a future unknown
To catch some showings of evening with an immigrant check out the fuel theatres page https://www.fueltheatre.com/projects/an-evening-with-an-immigrant
The Barbershop chronicles is back at the national theatre until December.
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/barber-shop-chronicles

 

Celebrating Black History Month with a review of an art exhibition: Soul of a Nation

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In this blog, James shares his reflections on a powerful exhibition at the Tate Modern in London on Black American Art from 1963 and how the struggle for black liberation in America resounded all over the world. The exhibition is very powerful and I was particularly struck by how if you are in a minority, you might have to develop innovative strategies. Black artists couldn’t get their work in the 1960s into mainstream galleries so people in the community opened one dedicated to black artists in New York with great trepidation.  The result was queues around the block.  Now, time for the Tate to do an exhibition dedicated to Black British Artists.

Soul of a Nation Exhibition

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There is a very interesting exhibition “Soul of a Nation” at the Tate Modern, in London. This exhibition show cases some of the art work by mostly black artists at the height of the American civil rights movement. The exhibition focuses on artist work in the two decades after 1963. IMG_1924
When we went to the exhibition, the hall was packed with people from all ethnic groups keen to see what artists made of that era – a time of great unrest in America. As you went into the exhibition foyer there were film clips of some of the most influential black activists at the time including Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and so on, speaking about civil rights, black consciousness, black awakening and black power.
The different rooms had different themes. The one that caught my eye was the room with the abstract paintings. What was interesting was the under current going on within the black artists community itself at the time – about “How should an artist respond to political and cultural change”, “Was there a Black art?”, “Should an artist create legible images or make abstract work?”, “Was there a choice to be made for addressing a black audience or a universal one?”. Some artist felt black artists should only focus on art that told a “black” story however there were others who felt the artists should be free to draw whatever they wanted without constraints of colour. I agree with the later view. It is a free world and one should be free to express oneself in whatever form they choose without any constraints.
Another picture that also caught my eye was one of Tommy Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in a Black Power salute on the podium at the 1968 Mexico Olympics – where they had ran first and third respectively in the 200m race. This show of “force” is perhaps regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the Olympic Games.
Also in one of the rooms was “The Wall of Respect”, this was an outdoor mural in Chicago Southside and featured images of black heroes – civic leaders, writers, musician, sports starts and dancers. The most notable absentee on the wall was James Brown (the God father of Soul), who was at the vanguard of the black awakening with hits like “Say It Loud I’m Black and Proud”.
I feel myself fortunate to have lived through this era albeit as a young whipper snapper. I saw the impact of what this awakening did to people not only in America but also in Africa. A few of us were sufficiently inspired in Africa to want to join the Black Panther movement to address the injustice being perpetuated on the black people in America. There were still others who used this as a rallying cry to denounce the apartheid regime in South Africa and to call for an African High command to fight to overthrow the apartheid government in South Africa.
Although the exhibition was mainly about black artists in America during a time of great unrest, it also resonates with all folk around the world who were aspiring for their own self-determination (independence) from their colonial masters or other oppressive regimes of the day.
The exhibition has something for everyone and is well worth visiting.
The exhibition finishes on Sunday, 22 October.
The exhibition cost £17 for Adults and free to under- 12s and members.

Support TogetherintheUK’s Aviva Community Fundraising bid!

Supporting TogetherintheUK

Vote for us! We need 1000+ votes from you, our supporters and followers

No, this is not a referendum or for a political party – your vote is about supporting a good cause and you can help TogetherintheUK make films and run events such as Career support that help newcomers to the UK find out about life here. Our purpose is to share helpful insights and useful information from people who have once immigrated here about life in the UK, through events and youtube videos.

Make your #10 Votes count. Voting starts on the 24th October and Closes on 21st November 2017

How to vote: Go to the Aviva Community Fund website – Click here!

You have up to ten votes which you can use whichever way you want. Of course we hope you support us with all your votes!

Find out more about us at www.togetherintheUK.co.uk Thank you for your support and vote!

Please also follow us and like us on Facebook and Twitter if you could, it would mean a great deal to us and the people we serve.

Adult learning

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Adult Learning

There are many different ways of learning more about the UK and here you will find a fascinating route that Xiau took, going back to fundamentals and studying for foundation qualifications.  So, read this to find out why people go back to education.

Xiau has post-graduate qualifications but was struggling to get a job and noticed that English and Maths GCSE’s were essential qualifications that employers wanted. He also thought that studying for these qualifications would help him make friends and understand more about British society.  GCSE’s are the exams children take at 16 and Maths and English GCSE are mandatory for entering many professions.

So, what was the experience like?  He joined a class of 20 adults, some British, some newcomers. The class was made up of people of all ages;  some hadn’t passed these exams when they were at school, so were entering education again and were doing the exams at the same time as their children, others were in their late 20s.  You need GCSE English and Maths, for instance, if you want to do a nursing degree.

He found it very interesting going back to the fundamentals.  It connects you to the basics. He also found that he knew more about English grammar than his teacher.  It’s often the case that people who have learnt English as a foreign language write and speak better English than people who were born here. This is because for a long time, grammar has been not taught in English schools. It is now and one of the useful things you are taught at GCSE English is ‘Point, Evidence, Explain’.  This is make your point, give the evidence behind it and then explain why.

What are the differences teaching in Asia and the UK?

Xiau found one major difference in our approach to exams to Asia. Here, it is very important to show how you have worked out the answer and that is as important as the right answer.  In Asia, the exams tend to be multiple choice, truth or false and, most importantly, are about getting the answer right.  Both countries ‘teach to the test’ meaning they concentrate on what the pupils’ need to pass the exam.

In Asia, the teaching is collectively based and students don’t tend to speak out. In the UK, students can speak out and ask questions although if you are ahead of the teacher, they can be dismissive!

It’s never too late

The really good thing about these courses is they are provided in a Further Education College and are free for people who have not achieved GCSE English and Maths in this country.  Top tip: check out your local Further Education College.  In London, there are a wide range and they offer all kinds of very reasonably priced courses but you will also find  colleges all over the country, offering basic skills training.  They are one of the great offerings of the British education system.  The UK believes in lifelong learning and if you haven’t achieved at school, it’s never too late.

The Good Immigrant: book review

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In this blog below, you can gain an insight into how we think about diversity in the UK. The review first appeared in March 2017 on the EW Group’s website

Book Review
The Good Immigrant – edited by Nikesh Shukla
You may have seen The Good Immigrant in the window of your local bookstore. You may have been struck by its front-cover provocation: “What’s it like to live in a country that doesn’t trust you and doesn’t want you unless you win an Olympic gold medal or a national baking competition?” Strong to say the least, some would say alienating, but is it worth reading what’s inside?

Having heard about The Good Immigrant on the radio, I conducted some research and found that the book itself has an inspiring back-story. Published by crowdfunding on Unbound, it was chosen as Book of the Week on Radio 4 (a radio station that is partof the BBC) and has since become a bestseller.
The book itself collects 20 essays by different people on their experience of being an ethnic minority in the UK today. The stories are beautifully written and often very funny, and a sharp reminder that everyone has different experiences to bear when they come to work. Reading a personal story about the reality of being BAME(Black,Asian, Minority Ethnic), after all, stays with you longer than any research report.
So what insights can those of us working in diversity gain from these stories?

Diversity role models matter
There are a number of role models that appear in The Good Immigrant. Daniel York Loh, a playwright and actor who describes himself as half-Chinese, writes about how he chose a villainous Japanese wrestler as his own hero as a child, and how much his hero’s fights mattered to him. Darren Chetty writes about how, as a teacher, he suggests his pupils use the name of a family member in their stories, only for one child to reply, ‘Stories have to be about white people!’
But we also have to be mindful that it can be a burden to be a role model. Poet and broadcaster Musa Okwonga writes powerfully (and hilariously) about how he felt he represented black people as a child at his private school: “I became an unofficial ambassador for black people. There were so few of us in the boarding-school that I felt driven every week to prove that we could be just as good as our white counter-parts”. He was 11, and carrying all that responsibility.

Unconscious bias and stereotyping have real consequences
Miss L writes about how, after three years of drama school, the head’s advice about what parts she should go for amounted to ‘the wife of a terrorist’. Riz Ahmed – celebrated as part of a new diverse generation of actors currently reviving the Star Wars franchise to stellar acclaim – writes about how he sees going through airports in the same way as going to an audition. He feels the need to put on a show, just to make the security ordeal manageable. In his eyes, the pitfalls of the audition room and the airport interrogation room are the same. The threat of rejection is real. He also talks about the effect of typecasting, and how you yourself end up internalising the role written for you by others. These two essays alone make a compelling case for taking action on unconscious bias.

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, messaging matters
Giving close consideration to whose stories we tell, and whose pictures we choose, is vital if we are to demonstrate the value we place in diversity. Wei Ming Kam starts her essay with memories of how her mum would point excitedly at the TV every time she saw someone Chinese on screen. And when talking about his role as part of a Pakistani family in Eastenders, Himesh Patel writes, ‘I know there are people from various South Asian backgrounds who felt represented by the family’.

The importance of diversity monitoring and action-planning
Ultimately, those of us working towards more inclusive cultures at work need to do more to demonstrate that diversity monitoring is a very real, very important activity for our respective businesses. When used effectively, diversity monitoring can provide the evidence base that informs robust action-planning and provokes genuine culture change. Going back to that questionable book cover, it blares out how the country ‘needs you for its diversity monitoring forms’… Oh dear! Put the cover aside. This book can help you bring the business case for diversity to life – thanks to its humour, eloquence and humanity.
For more articles on diversity and inclusion, head to the EW Group website: http://theewgroup.com

Shopping in and around London

 

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Shopping

Some newcomers to the UK have told us that understanding the shops in the UK is tricky when you first get here so here Katya, who is Hungarian shares with us what she has learnt about the shops in London.

These are Katya’s recommendations, not those of TogetherintheUK.co.uk But you will certainly get some ideas of where to go to get some good bargains and some fun shopping experiences from here.

Shopping or travelling in London

Food

Asda (this supermarket has a big selection, you can find all the brands and prices are good)

Lidl (this supermarket is even cheaper than Asda but they just have their own brands)

Morrisons, Sainsburys. Tesco (the big stores are good but Sainsburys Local orTesco Express have a smaller selection of brands and prices can be a bit higher)

Toiletries:

Superdrug or Boots (Superdrug often has some good deals)

Cheaper than the cheapest

Poundland (you can find here basically everything as toiletries, dishwasher tablets, sweets, everything that you can imagine and even what you can’t imagine.

Clothes

Oxford Street is the best place for shopping if the weather is good as you can find almost every brand, also same brands have more shops so if they run out of your size, you have a good chance to find it in another 4 or 5 other shops

Westfield Shepherds Bush or Stratford (Stratford is one of the largest urban shopping centres in Europe)

Harrods,  you can find the most exclusive brands here. Harrods is a luxury department store located in Knightsbridge, London and its always an experience to go there

Shopping outside of London near Oxford – go to Bicester Village (this is a luxury, village style shopping area showcasing leading fashion brands and at discounted prices)

Travel

Travel in London with your contactless bank card (use it with a trust and confidence as it doesn’t cost more than travelling with your Oyster card, your Oyster card is prepaid, using your contactless bank card, the money is deducted as you travel from your bank account.

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