Wednesday, 11 March 2009
The last major census that was conducted produced some interesting results. More than 300 000 people living and working in the Greater London area classified themselves as being Greek. The first wave of immigration started back in the 1800's but the number of Greek settlers who chose to make London their home was relatively small. The second movement begun in the mid 50's when a large number of Greek Cypriots migrated here. Today the numbers include those who arrived in the 50's their children, who were born here, (second generation) and now their own children (third generation) who have very much assimilated into British or London life.
These 300 000 London Greeks live and work all over this great city of ours but there are areas where large proportions live and work such as Enfield, Haringey, Barnet, Hackney and Cambden, There are also smaller numbers in the south of London in areas like Camberwell and Croydon.
This group of British citizens are very much integrated into the London scene and life yet they retain their own distinct culture and follow (to some degree) the Greek traditions. Cheap travel to both Greece and Cyprus have also enabled this group of citizens to keep close contacts with family and friends back in the 'country of origin'. There are debates taking on right now within the Greek community as to whether the 3rd generation (those in their late teens and early 20's) will be able to do what those of us from the 2nd generation managed to do so successfully which has been to be fully integrated into the British way of life but also manage to retain a strong link with our Hellenic roots. I think that we are doing very well ensuring that we retain the interest of the 3rd generation and belive that LGR (London Greek Radio) has helped with that project.
We need to put more effort in ensuring that our agenda is not dominated by constantly talking about the problems they have back in mainland Greece or Cyprus. We must push the agenda for change and focus our minds on the fact that we are British of Greek origin. In other words do something similar to what the Normans did when they arrived after 1015 and talk more about what problems we have as British citizens of Greek origin and not just about what we can do to support causes back 'home'. And we can start doing that by organising politically knowing full well that as a Greek community we have the power to vote and influence issues and subjects that matter to us collectively. There are at least 12 constituencies I can think of in London where the Greek vote can influence election results so lets organise knowing that we have that power and learn from our brothers and sisters in other x immigrant communities who have already done that!
Lets make it real and lets make it happen!