ADAPTING TO A NEW CULTURE

Project participants shared stories that highlighted the struggles involved in adjusting to a new and sometimes contrasting culture. The ability to communicate in English was often identified as key to successfully settling here:

"if you live in water you must know how to swim. So if you live in a country where English is the language, unless you can speak in English, you are socially excluded that's simple as that. That's what we thought." Anon, Bangladesh. His wife provides English classes to Bangladeshi women

Many told us that learning the unspoken language of social etiquette, norms and customs could also be bewildering. British styles of interaction seemed alien to many of our interviewees and people reported feelings of isolation.

"In the East, people always smiled and spoke to you and you could visit people without having an appointment you were always welcome to a cup of tea But here I suppose it was because of the weather mpeople tended to live within their own little family unit." Mrs Windsor, Burma.

"I was really yearning for a bit of recognition maybe a little bit of encouragement or comfort Because I was feeling terribly homesick to begin with, the whole experience of coming to the UK was overwhelming to say the least I just wanted a bit of reassurance but I didn't get it in the church and I was terribly disappointed." Mr Windsor, from Burma.

At the same time as they worked hard to adapt to life in Britain, many interviewees kept in touch with their self-identity and cultural heritage through food and clothing.

"There was only one shop Patak's which is now a big name and that was in Drummond Street, quite close to where I was working in High Holborn, It was only a grocer's, not a restaurant. We had an office newsletter where I was working and we would write recipes using Patak spices." Mr Babraa who came to London to study architecture in 1957.

"now you can get almost anything you want in London. I remember when I first came there were hardly any sari shops. We used to go to John Lewis and buy material by the yard. Chiffon, you know." Mrs Westcombe, born in Calcuttta in 1945, arrived in the UK in 1972.

"we try to keep our culture and of course I cook Albanian food, but you know the children go to school, have school dinner or packed lunch ... it's different, they sometimes want to change it and we change it. Mix it! Mix the culture" Anon, moved from Tirana, Albania in 1998.