Community home / Extended family / Don’t assume


My name is Ha. I was born in Vietnam. I’m a chef in the centre. Elderly people they come here for when their children grow up they don’t live with them anymore. They want to come here to enjoy a talk to
their friends and eating Vietnamese food. Vietnamese people – they work very hard. Most people, they come here looking for a
job. The life is very hard back in a country. You know in my city the food is very nice. Like spring roll. If you eat spring roll in Hai Phong it’s the best one in Vietnam I think so. Very tasty. My name is Wai Yiu LAM. We are in the Hackney Chinese Community Centre. Orignially I came from Hong Kong. I came in summer and I quite liked the environment because Hong Kong is all tower block, very overcrowded, so many people and I came to London. It was in summer, sunny, big park. It didn’t last long – of course. Summer followed by autumn, autumn by winter and autumn winter are cold! I went to the park and for no reason a white
man came towards me and charged torwards and just spit in my face and tell me to go home. And other experience of… on a bus journey – well people just call you names. I must say over the years it has improved
a little bit and that in general the attitude has changed for the better But in recent year with the rise of the nationalism this country is that to have those behaviour
towards migrant again. In this centre we have people from Vietnam, the Vietnamese and the Vietnamese Chinese, we have from the mainland China – Chinese and the Hong Kong Chinese and Malaysian Chinese. Although we are all Chinese, but probably our culture are different – the language, the dialect we speak are different too. I’m originally from Malaysia. I’m the second generation born in Malaysia and then I come to England and then I have
my family here – my two daughters is born here – British Born Chinese what they call it – BBC! In the centre we have like loads yeah – we have ballroom dance, majhong, karaoke, table tennis, calligraphy, luncheon club, thai chi, board games, chess – Chinese chess and all these we are trying to fit around
the people with different interests, because not all people like the majhong, not
all people like mahjong. I think today a lot of our members are predominantly
older people. This is a very big change from the so called traditional family structure. Chinese culture has a very strong sense of
family value. It is not uncommon to have 3, 4… 5 generation live under one roof. But then this country – when we come to this
country, the social system, the environment doesn’t
support that. The British society encourage children once
you reach your adult age you move out of the nest and be independent. So centres like this are providing community
home for them who come and have a common background, common social value that they can share and they can talk about the children and moan
about them. Well they see the more people out of similar
experience then they can feel it’s not their own failure
of their culture, but rather they see this as a place that they
can support each other. My life changed – the fact that I’ve been here for 45 years
now, 46 years and I’ve been ageing. When I first came I have black hair, handsome and now I’m… silver hair, old and ugly! But still handsome. Rainbow Grow started up about I think 3 years
ago. The Mayor of Hackney asked for new ideas for
initiatives and I was in the process of thinking of giving
up full time teaching. And at the end of my teaching career I’d
gotten very into gardening, and it was such a great way to bring the community
together around the school, parents from different
cultures. You know people just really got involved and I thought wouldn’t it be great to have
an LGBTQI+ project in Hackney that revolved around gardening and growing
food and cooking food, sharing food, bringing food. All those sorts of things, nice healthy activity. If you are saving you own seeds, then the viability will be quite good for
a number of years. I’m originally from New York City. But I’ve lived in Hackney for 37 years. I think it’s really important to have alternatives
to the club scene or the bar scene. You know, I like a glass of wine, with my
dinner, but I’m not one to sit around a pub, never
have been. It’s not part of my culture and I think
lots of people like to socialise but don’t want drink as the focus. And the LGBTQI community, for a long time, has revolved around the club scene and about how you look and all those sorts
of things. And I just thought it would be really nice
to do something different and to do something outdoors. If you look, the seeds are the little tiny,
the dark ones. I think that there is, you know, that issue
about loneliness and how to get involved in things, and if you’re no longer on the club scene, how do you make new friends? And if people don’t have children, and a lot of older generation LGBTQI people
didn’t have children, I think now it’s more common place for younger
couples to settle down, have children and maybe integrate into, you know, the wider
community. But I think for older people especially, it’s nice to be able to meet other people
in a different area. And also our group is intergenerational, and I think that’s important and it was really funny the first time Hackney’s
Mayor said: ‘Rainbow Grow – the intergenerational
group’ and all of a sudden (laughs) I realised I’m the older generation! and it’s just like, it was a shock, you
know. But it’s really nice to be sort of mixing
with 30 year olds and teenagers, you know, young people as well. Some of our members are from abroad, some
are from the EU. And, as I said, I’m originally from America, so it’s nice to have this extended family. Hackney is known as the centre of drag these
days. Alternative drag. My name is John Nolan. I’m a performer and I own this pub called ‘The Glory’ and my drag name, as I can be a bit of a drag queen on the side,
is John Sizzle. I was born in London to Irish immigrant parents
in the 60s. I used to be… work in advertising And I left advertisement, advertising and
became a drag queen (laughs) I became a drag queen. I left a very good job and I became a drag
queen. I’m sort of, doing this and creating an
environment for other people to come to. So, I feel a bit like a mother in a way, just keeping that house running so that everyone else can grow and be noisy
(laughs) around me. Singing: And she’ll tease you, she’ll unease
you. All the better just to please you. She’s precocious… I’m 51 now, so I came out in the 80s, which was a really difficult time. You know, there were so many areas you, you didn’t feel safe. You didn’t see the difference, the diversity of types of people within the
LGBTQ community. It was more gay, lesbian and nothing in between. But over years it’s got more diverse. It’s got more accepting. It’s been more accepted. People understand it more, but there’s something in the air at the
moment, there’s a change in the country I think, since all this Brexit trouble and Trump coming
into power, and the move toward more right wing point
of views. That there’s, there’s a lot of tension
in the air. It feels more dangerous. Singing: Down. Slow. Skip a beat and move with my body Down. Slow. I would describe my gay family, or everyone I know around here as being key to the modernity of London. They’re all rooted in community, they all, they work in the community, they spend their money in the community, they love the community, and they add that essential flavour to Hackney that Hackney is renowned for. Hackney’s always been really diverse. It’s always been full of immigrants and
different, different nationalities and creeds. And long may it continue. I don’t look it, but I’m 72 years old. I live in Hackney, North London because I’m UK Black British. I suffer autistic from the early 60s. I’ve got new glasses… Although I have a learning disability, I am so sensible. It’s to cut down on sugar, cut down on bad
habits of take aways… I felt shy, I was upset in the emotional. I do get physically, mentally and the emotional because I just don’t like other people who
go on tormenting me and bullying me, that’s how I get, because I was shy. I do do a lot of voluntary work. I think you can feel – otherwise, if you don’t do things like that – I think you can feel very, very isolated and,
you know, sort of lonely. Well what I get is, out of the group here, is to be a volunteer, to be communications, to help one another, to support one another. That’s how very important it is. Here you are, you are representing older people. The steering group, the older people’s committee. How can you reach into the parts, all parts of the community, the nooks and crannies that you can’t see? How are you genuinely working as a group to reach into the different parts and get the voice and bring that voice back into the right arena? I think it’s really, really important that people with learning disabilities are
seen in the community as doing the same things as everybody else
is doing. It’s very important that we do everything, like go to work, get married, have a family, do whatever we want to do. And we should be supported to do that if that’s
what we need. So don’t assume, isn’t it? Up until two years ago I was driving. It took me four years to learn, to pass my
test. To me it’s a lot that I’ve done that when the Drs actually said when I was a child
and a baby I wouldn’t walk, I wouldn’t talk, I wouldn’t do nothing, I’d just be a vegetable. And what my parents were told, you probably don’t know this because you’re
very young but parents in those days were told to put their children away and get on with
your life and have another child. Because people out there, they don’t see us as the same as they are. But we are. Do we hear each other’s views? We can’t change the big system, but we can
change our little system. We have to be inclusive. Don’t make assumptions about ability. Being older does not mean they cannot do things. Exactly. What I really enjoy it… I’m doing is Access All Areas in Hoxton Hall – being an actress. To me I just want to be an artist. Being helpful, polite, reliable even if you don’t particularly like somebody
or the way they look. I love it when I’m filmed. I think… Getting it out there in the community and letting people see. Because what is here has to, it has to show. Singing: Worry, why do I let myself worry? Wondering what in the world did I do? Oh crazy for thinking that my love could hold you I’m crazy for trying and crazy for crying and I’m crazy for loving you.

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