The Latin American community is one of the fastest growing – yet one of the most invisible – migrant communities in London. In 2013, there were 145,000 Latin Americans living in London, which is a greater number than the Somali and Chinese communities (McIlwaine & Bunge 2016). The majority live in South London (Lambeth and Southwark) where IRMO is based.
In spite of the community’s high rates of employment (85%), many experience exclusion, poverty and disadvantage in the labour market. Reports by Queen Mary University (2011, 2016) revealed that the majority work in low paid, precarious jobs, mostly in the cleaning or catering sectors, and experience ‘in work poverty’ and isolation linked to working antisocial and fragmented hours.
These working conditions leave people vulnerable to exploitation. 45% of those surveyed had experienced workplace abuse and 1 in 5 had not been paid for work (McIlwaine & Bunge 2016). As people work multiple jobs, complications can arise with tax, and many people build up debt. Lack of English hinders access to services, with a large number not claiming the social security they are entitled to. As a result, many live in poor and overcrowded accommodation, and their children suffer considerably.
There has been a nearly four-fold growth in Latin Americans in London since 2001; among other reasons, Latin Americans are arriving in the UK after migrating to Spain first, a phenomenon that has increased since the global economic recession.
Read Queen Mary University’s report Towards Visibility: The Latin American Community in London here >>
Latin American Children
Official data on Latin American children in the UK is currently not available. However, IRMO comes into contact with hundreds of families each year who are facing difficulties accessing services and formal education for their children.
Limited places available in local schools, the long processing time for applications and a lack of knowledge among parents regarding how the system works mean that children can be out of school for several months.
Schools can also be reluctant to take on children that do not have a good command of English due to the limited resources available for ESOL students. Lack of English can also contribute to feelings of isolation and hinder children’s integration into their school community.
IRMO has created a short briefing on families’ experiences of school enrolment in Lambeth. Please read it here >>