Becoming British: Havering’s migrants’ stories

PRISCILLA Frimpont arrived in Britain from Ghana as a wide-eyed teenager 23 years ago and lived with her family in Peckham before settling in Harold Hill.

The 37-year-old mother of four was one of the first people to get on a Youth Training Scheme, which was introduced during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, before having her first daughter.

She said: “I came as a teenager with my family, it was very exciting and a lot different from back home. The most obvious things were the people and the weather.

“I made friends quickly, most people were very friendly. I wanted to be a secretary and did that, then had my daughter, went back to college again. I’ve been in Harold Hill for five years, it’s different from Peckham, a lot quieter.”

l Studying brought cricket-loving Kani Seudar from Chennai in India to Britain eight years ago

And, though he travels back to see family, he is settled here with a good job working for British Tele- com.

The 31-year-old Chelsea fan was looking forward to getting his British citizenship.

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He said: “It is very different here but I like my job and I like it here, there are good opportunities. I’ve made some good friends.”

l Public sector worker Kash Shamim has settled in Collier Row – a far cry from his birthplace of Pakistan. He was just 15 when his father decided he wanted him to study in the UK.

He has since mastered IT and software engineering before taking up a post with Redbridge Council.

Now 25, he said: “I really enjoy it here. I was so young when I arrived, but there are lots of opportunities, far more than there are in Pakistan if you are prepared to work hard.”

l Waldeck Szarek was one of the wave of Polish migrants to take advantage of his native country joining the EU in 2003.

The 31-year-old arrived in Upminster looking for work more than six years ago and settled in Corbets Tey where he remains.

Originally studying biochemistry, he considered teaching in Britain but was put off by what he heard about it.

“So I went back to university and studied to be a nurse and now I work at the Queen’s Hospital.

“Upminster is a nice place to live – there’s no trouble. There used to be lots of Polish people there but a lot of them have gone back.”

l Dmytro Sossa came to Havering from Ukraine.

He arrived with nothing but soon found his feet and managed to turn his interest in computers into a full-time career and now works in IT for the NHS.

The 23-year-old, who lives near Roneo Corner, said: “I came here by way of a mutual exchange.

“At first I didn’t know whether I liked it here, but now I appreciate that people do what they say and there’s lots of opportunities for people like me.” He works for the NHS in Barking & Dagenham.”

l If you have ever visited the Sukhothai restaurant in Hornchurch you may have sampled some of the traditional Thai cooking served up by chef Sirijan Siripat.

Sirijan and her husband Anan, also a chef, came to Britain ten years ago.

The 44-year-old said: “I came here to work with my husband. He works in a big restaurant in Norwich and I work in Hornchurch, which is where we live too.

“When I first came here I thought I like that it is very clean and I like the weather in the summer.”

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