On Thursday 19 January 2023 Hongkongers from across Leeds came together in Beeston to celebrate the Lunar New Year with excellent decorations and an exquisite lunch.
Health For All set up the project in partnership with Migration Yorkshire to support new Hong Kong migrants to settle in the UK and help them integrate with local communities.
The project has supported over 200 people in the last two years offering a range of practical support including English language courses, helping young Hongkongers to link with youth groups, connect Hongkongers with local community projects, support with housing, job search and setting up their own business.
Hong Kong was formerly a British colony and many Hongkongers hold British National (Overseas) passports, which allows them apply for a five year visa allowing them to live and work in the UK.
I spoke to one man who managed three large municipal warehouses in Hong Kong. He told me was looking to settle down and then look for work. He said he was keen to integrate into the community and had found people in Beeston very friendly and helpful.
I also spoke to two students, Peace and Lokyee, who volunteer with the group, primarily as translators. Peace got them involved after needing legal advice herself from Migration Yorkshire for her British National (Overseas) visa application.
“Helping with interpreting and doing activities with people from Hong Kong is a way of giving back” she said.
She went on to explain how even in something like a conversational English class, which is led by a native speaker and conducted in English, having a translator in the room can be helpful to overcome blockages.
Health For All project worker, Huazhu Liu, had attended a reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate the Lunar New Year the previous evening and was able to bring greetings from the Prime Minister to the group. He extended a welcome to Hongkongers living in the UK and wished everyone a Happy New Year.
With that we raised our glasses of green tea and wished each other “新年快樂” (pronounced: san nin faai lok) – Happy New Year in Cantonese – and lunch was served.
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