The Somali Community in a London Borough

Sahil Housing Association

Unit 2C Leroy House
436 Essex Road
Islington London N1 3QP
IPS reg 28267R


National Housing Federation
Federation of Black Housing Organisations
Homeless Link
Association of London Somali Organisations

Mohamed Abdullah Chief Executive
Clive Durdle Consultant
07949 565 103 020 7226 4494

The Somali community in a London Borough –
Where we are from, where we are now, where we want to be.

October 2005

“We are refugees. We are like the sufriye that people make use of to cook on the fire. When you use it the first time, it gets burned badly. But later it develops a thick layer of charcoal and cooks only slowly. Our hearts are like that. We have experienced so many things that we are now very strong. We have hardened with life .”


The purpose of this project was to begin to resource and need map the key issues and begin the process of agreeing joined up holistic specific community centred short, medium and long term strategies and actions to resolve these issues. The work with the Somali community aimed to map the needs and resources of members of the Somali community and the strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats of existing Somali organisations.

This initial scoping exercise began to map out the issues and began the process of working up long term sustainable solutions.


The following case studies are important illustrations of the complexities that need resolving.

The Somali community, as an allegedly new community, although during the eighteenth century the preferred black servants of the wealthy in Britain were Somali, has for various reasons hit most of the markers of social exclusion.

A couple with five children live in a two-bedroom ground floor flat. Two of their boys, age six and five are autistic. The household have just moved from Locata Band C to Band B after 3 years. Possibilities of direct offers are being discussed. There are no support or care workers, no allocated social worker, no care packages. Children are at special school, but were in mainstream. Early diagnosis did not happen.

Family with five children under 7, one autistic, in temporary accommodation. Property not secure – autistic child can get out of front door.

A 90-year-old pensioner lives with her family in a 3-bedroom house. She has dementia. She lives upstairs as no toilet downstairs or way to get up and down easily. After three years she now has 4 hours care from a Somali worker per day. Her daughter is 60, with her own health problems. Household believes they were threatened by hospital – if you do not take her from hospital we will put her in a home.

Another pensioner is homeless and stays with various different people. She is known to homeless persons and has been offered sheltered housing, which she has refused as she would not be able to communicate with her neighbours and would feel very isolated. She would be happy with a general needs studio flat. She has cataracts.

A Somali woman is a fully qualified Somali veterinary surgeon, trained at University, but has not worked for several years and her English needs improving.

A Somali woman is a Somali qualified teacher but again has poor English and has not worked in Britain.

Two Somali women, one’s husband possibly having affair with other. Wife smashing in door of other at four in the morning. Specific community involvement, translating ansaphone messages, warned might be evicted, stopped.

Household with major arrears – household with two children over 18, not done change of circumstance claim, almost evicted, went to court, suspended possession order plus amount off arrears. This is a very common problem – tenants put letters in dustbin. Households do not communicate their needs properly, nor know their rights. A common view is – you were a refugee living under a tree, what have you to complain about?

Overcrowding is very common; homework has to be done on the child’s bed. Children get detentions for not doing homework. Older boys getting into trouble – exclusions.

Culture and language are very important but the children are not in touch with their first language and culture. There are minimal mechanisms to build the community together. It was stated that boys need fathers – but many are single mothers.

1. The Somali Community

Research by the Government Office for London (GOL) notes an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 Somali people in the Borough. The 2001 Census estimated a total population of 200,000 and of this the Black and Minority Ethnic communities are around one third.

Somalis are probably 3% of The Council’s population. It was claimed that Somalis are 95% of the category “Black African” but it was not possible to validate this. Census has a figure of 2.7% Black or Black British – African.

At December 2004 there were 583 Somali speaking children in schools, 3% of the school population.

Census has 9.13% as Muslim. Approximately 5% are Pakistani and Bangladeshi, so maximum Somali population if they are all of the remaining Muslim group is 4%.

There may therefore be less than 5000 Somalis in The Council.

It was reported that the area acts as a Somali community transition point. People commonly stay here with Somali families whilst they trace relatives in the UK and then move on.

A report comments that the number of Somalis has increased remarkably since the early 1990s when civil war broke out in Somalia. Somalis were attracted to by a number of factors:

• The multicultural nature of the Borough
• Availability of ethnic minority foods and mosques
• Close proximity to other sizeable Somali and East African community

The Somali community constituted one ethnic group whose needs appeared to be muted in the main and ignored. There was a general lack of awareness and understanding from officers within the local authority regarding service needs and aspirations of the community, as well as ignorance from the resident Somali community whereby residents felt targeted, isolated and victimised by officers which culminated in mutual deep seated suspicion.

This report notes that, as part of the Race Relations Act 2000 impact audit analysis, adverse impact was clearly identified within the Somali and East African community.

Issues identified by Somali households

The local Somali community resides in neighbourhoods characterised by high levels of unemployment, crime and disorder issues and to some extent deprivation. Despite these issues, service users generally expressed a commitment to their local estates, underpinned by the benefits associated with living alongside other Somali households. Over 250 residents were assisted (February 2003 – December 2003) and overwhelmingly a sense of safety and security from living within a concentrated population of Somali households was expressed.

Racial Harassment is reported as a frequent and widespread experience especially in the current climate of mistrust relating to asylum seekers, immigration, Islamaphobia and visible identifiable clothing (Hijab) worn by Somali women. It has a corrosive effect on the community particularly if communities are left to manage the problem themselves. The problem is further compounded by the stigma of Somali households being identified as “asylum seekers”, irrespective of their present status. The problem is further compounded by the community itself who rarely attach any priority unless the harassment becomes life threatening.

A number of reasons were given by existing service users to explain under reporting of harassment by Somali households. These included:

• The omnipresent language barrier
• Harassment as an everyday experience
• Lack of knowledge regarding available support and assistance and significantly
• Scepticism about the service providers’ response.

Focus groups suggested that only one in ten incidences were reported to Landlords or the Police. In relation to the Police, there seemed to be suspicion and widespread scepticism, as to whether an incident would be taken seriously by the Police, particularly when Somali youth are perceived to be targeted in relation to “stop and search” and a number of Somali women who had reported race crime to the police, perceived that nothing of value was achieved both in the charging of perpetrators or the often hostile and negative attitude of the police towards them.

Housing conditions and adaptations.

Many Somali and East African households are residing in severely overcrowded circumstances, which have a dramatic impact on their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Problems with housing conditions included damp and condensation, ineffective heating and security systems and poor quality repairs. Some households are reliant on the assistance of family or friends to report repairs issues, as illiteracy still poses a major issue

It was identified that elderly members of the Somali community generally resided with their close relatives in homes that are devoid of additional disabled facilities despite Social Services involvement.

Rent Arrears.

Language is a key barrier to residents understanding the present housing benefit infrastructure or the ability to claim housing benefit.

Over 98% of residents claimed income support and as such are entitled to full Housing Benefit. Conversely, a high number of households experience rent arrears at one time or another, in spite of being on income support continuously. Another point of concern was the completion of the Annual Housing Benefit Review Form which some residents failed to complete due to language barriers. In all of the above scenarios, Somali customers rarely get backdating Housing Benefits from the authorities even if they have rectified differences with them by providing them the required evidence.

In most cases it seems poor tenants are subjected to pay back an unfair and unjustified debt as a result of the arrears. In many instances, it is Rent Recovery Team that gets the wrath and blame in the case of Council tenants, whereby responsibility needs to be apportioned to Revenue Services. This remains a highly problematic area for the refugee community. Officers dealt with 45 rent arrear cases and successfully resolved 88.9% while 11.1% are still awaiting resolution.

Welfare Rights

There should be a full review and audit of all Somali households in terms of debt. There may be grounds for a class action against the Local Authority. Appropriate backdating and writing off of monies allegedly due should occur.

All parts of the council and partners must ensure the Somali community workers are informed where issues arise where the council is considering or has decided to take legal action.


The transfer procedure poses similar problems as the circular is only available in English. Present turnaround time for translated copies has an adverse impact upon members of the Somali community bidding for properties. Evidence suggests that Locata has failed the Somali community i.e. residents waiting to be rehoused whether in overcrowded conditions or in temporary accommodation. Somali residents afforded with priority Band A and B have not been successful in this scheme. Many of those with Band C and D believe they are wasting their time to continue bidding. Nevertheless, residents are encouraged by the Community Development Officers never to stop bidding to maximise their chances of success. Some of them believe that Locata is a ploy to confuse BME people particularly refugees and to take away their statutory rights. The Development Officers assisted 39 residents to submit applications to this scheme.

Homelessness is common among young single people irrespective of age and gender. Severe overcrowding is widespread amongst many families in the Somali community.


The Stop and Account Equality Impact Assessment is a useful summary of significant issues and notes:

The manager of a Youth Group met police to discuss the issues of stop search and stop account. He mentioned some concerns that police using the excuse of terrorism were stopping Somali youths unfairly, although he suggested that this had diminished since the initial reaction to the events of 11th September 2001, and the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said that in general the Somali community supported the police and wanted them to use stop and search but in a fair and appropriate way. Moreover, when conducting searches, he said it was vital for police to treat Somali youths with respect and dignity. He expressed concerns that police believed that second generation Somali youths were poorly educated and had the same limited understanding of English as their Somali born parents, and therefore thought they could take liberties with the rules associated with stop and search. This lack of respect and stereotyping, he said, caused significant resentment amongst Somali youths.

Community leaders in the main have not aired significant areas of concern about stop and search to police. The exception to this is the Somali community.

A key theme was the need for Police to work smarter, particularly in the way we communicate, in order to minimise misunderstanding and distrust among various local communities. This recommendation applies to all members of the strategic partnership.


Evidence suggests high levels of unemployment. Residents recognised that language is a major barrier to employment opportunities. However, focus groups also suggested that the unemployment rate amongst young Somali youth born and educated in Britain was extremely high. Service users also reported little familiarity with job application procedures. Furthermore, qualifications obtained in Somalia were considered irrelevant by local employers.


Health is a major area of concern for the Somali community. As a result of the civil war in Somalia, disabilities, and both physical and mental health problems are widespread. Poor housing conditions (such as overcrowding) and Khat abuse (Khat is narcotic drug mostly used by the Somalis; it is imported from East Africa and Yemen and sold legally in the UK) have exacerbated their already dire situation.

Somalis have increasingly become prone to obesity (in the case of Somali women) and diabetes. Although, the number of cases have not been documented, we have come to know that diabetes is increasingly becoming common amongst the community. This may be attributed to the sedentary life style of women as a result of the fear of crime which prevents women and children, in particular, to go for a stroll in public parks, children’s play grounds and even in the streets outside their houses.

2. Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society

The Government’s strategy to increase race equality and community cohesion launched by the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke at a Runnymede Trust conference on 19th January 2005:

• Signals the Government’s intention to develop more sophisticated, tailored approaches to meeting the specific needs of different minority communities, and to focus on those groups who still suffer particular disadvantage, rather than treating all minority groups as disadvantaged or having the same needs. This is the time to move on from one-size-fits-all approaches to meeting Black and minority ethnic needs.
• Sets out a vision for providing such tailored, appropriate services as an integral element of delivering excellent public services.
• Reflects the Government’s commitment to strengthening, supporting and enforcing discrimination legislation.
• Strengthens accountability for delivering the above, with stretching crosscutting Government targets to reduce race inequalities and monitor outcomes
• States that the Government will publish a new comprehensive action plan to address Black and minority ethnic housing needs later this year.

Social exclusion

Is about multiple, tangled webs of problems that are persistent; there may be beliefs that it is permanent. Ways out of this morass include:

• Dealing with real problems
• Tackle problems that cross-organizational boundaries that fall between the cracks
• Give power to local people – ask them to be catalysts for change. They will need support, training and encouragement.
• Let people who implement things be a bit strange
• Involve local people from the start – change from doing to, to doing with

Social Capital

Social capital consists of the networks, norms, relationships, values and informal sanctions that shape the quantity and co-operative quality of a society’s social interactions.

There are three main types of social capital:

• Bonding social capital (e.g. among family members or ethnic groups)
• Bridging social capital (e.g. across ethnic groups)
• Linking social capital (e.g. between different social classes)

Social capital can be measured using a range of indicators but the most commonly used measure is trust in other people.

An ecological perspective

International experience has given some strong pointers to how to achieve excellence.
The World Health Organisation has noted the following principles for public policy .

• Prevention is better than cure
• The health of every individual, especially those in vulnerable and high-risk groups, must be protected. Special attention should be paid to disadvantaged groups
• Action should be based on the best available scientific information
• Development assistance should promote sustainable development

A 1985 study “The Enigma of Aboriginal Health – Interaction between biological social and economic factors in Alice Spring town-camps” attempted the immensely complex task of measuring health changes and relating them to the social cultural and economic environment in which they are expressed. The study used an ecological perspective, looking in detail at existing health patterns, causes and environmental factors. The study looked at nutritional status, infection rates and morbidity, exposure and length of exposure to European society, involvement in ceremonial life and traditional ways of thinking.

This study was part of a major change of thinking in its attempt to place organic disease in a larger societal framework that goes beyond the description of environmental factors like housing or nutritional habits.

The social networks of refugees

A study of a Somali refugee camp in Kenya “Transnational Nomads” by Cindy Horst comments:

“This book presents a critique of the common depiction of refugee camps as isolated areas, which pays little attention to the processes beyond camp borders.”
“The links that refugees maintained with relatives outside the camps were essential for their daily survival. “
“The bureaucratic needs of the international refugee regime and governments make it necessary to label the people that are entitled to assistance.”
“The assumption that refugees are passive victims needing charitable dispensation.”
“The assumed identity of refugees creates and imposes an institutional dependency”
“The self protective inability of human beings to understand the humanness in refugees and their experience.”

“Refugees are not simply victims, however tragic the experiences they undergo.”

Risk assessment

Risk assessment in social work uses a concept of mapping the social relationships someone has. Whilst it is true most Somalis do have good contacts with their community, the community itself is often unable to find solutions. This is not solely a matter of “capacity building”. There are professionals in this community. It is more that the mainstream organisations seem to be at a loss what to do. The Government’s intention of developing more sophisticated, tailored approaches to meeting the specific needs of different minority communities, and to focus on those groups who still suffer particular disadvantage, rather than treating all minority groups as disadvantaged or having the same needs is a logical way forward and should be a key corporate objective. The Audit Commission Inspections of Supporting People services have commented in other councils.

The pace to develop services for client groups who currently have no provision is slow. This particularly applies to BME communities.

There is little awareness of the barriers that current policies put in place for some service users. Also the council needs to address the lack of a coherent and continuous monitoring framework for monitoring of related strategies such as the housing strategy that are important for the successful delivery of parts of the programme.

There has been a lack of focus on providing services for some client groups, such as BME communities.

Holistic Government

Demos have written the following in their publication “Holistic Government” :

The core problem for government is that it has inherited from the nineteenth century a model of organisation that is structured around functions and services rather than around solving problems. Budgets are divided into separate silos for health, education, law and order and so on. The vertical links between departments and agencies in any one field and professional groups such as the police, teachers, doctors and nurses are strong. The horizontal links are weak or non-existent.

Nationally, the strategic partners have only recently begun moving along this road from silo governance and there are some excellent examples of best practice in The Council, especially in Health, Education, The Council Homes and Translation. These very different ways of working are not yet mainstreamed. Demos sets out the following rules of holistic governance.

1. Holistic budgeting: in order that services can be designed in the most effective way and closely targeted upon key groups in each area, budgets should be organised not by functions or organisations but around outcomes and geographical areas,

2. Organisations defined around outcomes: Instead of departments, and quangos being responsible for administering services, organisations should be charged with achieving outcomes and using their budgets to buy whatever services or functions they require.

3. One-stop shops should become the principle means by which the public deals with government. One-stop shops will organise what the public sector offers by the life events that trigger people’s needs for services. The functions and services that make up today’s public sector will become “back offices” and “content providers” for these one stop shops and will, over time operate and be managed in more integrated ways.

4. Case workers: The roles of frontline staff should be developed, empowering them to purchase services across health care, housing, social services, benefits and job training to bring together packages of customised solutions that suit the needs of the individual.

5. Contracts should be based on outcomes.

6. Every department, agency and tier of government should be audited to identify the balance of effort that it puts into preventative activity across the range of outcomes with which it is charged.

7. The role and status of preventive work should be enhanced in all professions.

Specific community strategies

Home Office and DWP research has many times emphasised the requirement for and logic of specific community based strategies, but the policy and practice implications of this strategy have not been thought through. Most of the issues faced by the Somali community – is this specific community clearly and consistently identified? – may be solved by moving to person, family and community centred strategies and actions. The current situation tends to be ad hoc.

Reasons for providing refugee-specific initiatives

Scale and complexity of needs

The process of resettlement involves a wide range of issues that refugees have to address to establish their new life in Britain. Although agencies tend to address only one or two issues, such as applications for benefits or housing, refugees are having to cope with many other concerns at the same time, for example learning English, trying to find work, applying for family reunion and dealing with health problems.

Refugee Specific Initiatives can provide an effective, local and economical response to this situation. The diversity of the refugee population makes it difficult for mainstream health, housing, education and welfare services to understand fully and cater for their needs. Refugee Specific Initiatives can be more flexible and responsive to individual need.

They can bridge the gap by providing assistance and support in using mainstream services (such as the Health Service) or by directly providing alternative and complementary services They can also provide employment for refugees within the RSI itself.

Clear differences in perceptions and practices between some refugee groups and the host society have been identified. These affect how services are used, studying and learning skills, perceptions of need and treatment, childcare practices, and job-seeking skills. For many refugees, learning about and understanding British institutions and practices takes time, but is a key element in long-term resettlement. In the short term, the availability of intermediaries with appropriate language skills and a degree of cultural awareness can ease resettlement.

Educating mainstream service providers

An obstacle to resettlement for refugees can be the ignorance of both the general public, and those from whom refugees seek help. There may be ignorance about their culture, their customs, their rights, and particularly the experience of being a refugee – of having lost everything, not being able to communicate, of having skills undervalued or not recognised.

Many Refugee Specific Initiatives, along with the Refugee Council and Refugee Action, see a significant part of their role as the education of professionals in mainstream positions with respect to these issues. This should promote a greater understanding amongst professionals who come into contact with refugees and ease access to the appropriate services. Refugees should be empowered to take responsibility for themselves as far as possible.

Specialist knowledge and experience should be shared with both refugee communities and mainstream service providers.

Access to mainstream services and agencies should be promoted, rather than seeing specialist provision as an end in itself. Partnerships and good links between statutory, voluntary and community agencies provide the best basis for working.


Funding is short-term and insecure for virtually all RSIs, though they take the pressure off many mainstream services. Many staff hours are wasted in fundraising. Support and supervision could be offered to funded community groups to maximise the benefits from the resources available.

The range of services provided by refugee agencies, refugee-specific initiatives and community organisations is invaluable for the welfare of refugees in Britain. Regular and adequate resourcing of these activities is an investment which, in the long term, will assist refugees to rebuild their lives and doubtlessly make a valuable contribution to British society.

The members of the Local Strategic Partnership must agree together sustainable and common funding, audit, application and monitoring systems to enable the range of services for example at the Chinese National Healthy Living Centre. The proposed Somali one stop shop must also be enabled to win and manage long term contracts, for example in interpretation, support, care, advice, housing management, youth work, older persons services, and meals.


Sheffield Hallam University have commented that information management systems may make it very difficult to implement the person centred, household centred and community centred strategies that are needed.

Why are these statistics being collected in this form is a rarely asked question!

Sheffield Hallam University recommends the employment of ethnic categorisations that go beyond the standard Census categories and allow disaggregation at the local level that is sensitive to the profile of the local minority ethnic populations. The Office for National Statistics has recommended a way to achieve this. This more sensitive categorisation can be aggregated up to the Census categories, but would ensure more relevant and appropriate information at the local level.

Community planning cannot occur without this level of sophistication, which when done consistently will allow funding to follow need in a planned manner.

The Race Relations Act imposes a duty on public bodies to make appropriate arrangements with a view to securing that their various functions are carried out with due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups.

Fulfilling this duty involves promoting a culture of service monitoring and performance review and revision across the entire voluntary and public sector.

Current practice in fact embeds poor ways of working – for example, the ethnic categorisation employed by the Housing Corporation (for example in the CORE and Investment Code systems) and adopted by housing associations replicates the inadequacies of the Census categories and do not allow disaggregation of ethnic categories in order to explore and understand the situations of specific populations, such as Somali households, at the local level.

The current categorisation does accommodate some nationalities (Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi), raising the question of why certain nationalities are recognised in the ethnic classification and others are not.

Census categories – The broad ethnic categorisations employed in the Census, which provide a template followed by the vast majority of ethnic monitoring systems, represent a rather clumsy mixture of nationality (Indian, Pakistani, for example) and colour (White, Black). In large part, this classification reflects the particular context in which the classification was developed i.e. to capture increasing diversity as a result of large-scale immigration from the Caribbean and South Asia during the post-war period.

There are now at least two problems with this classification:

• It has failed to keep pace with and reflect the growth of existing but relatively small communities (e.g. Somali) and the more recent arrival of new communities (e.g. from the former Yugoslavia etc.)

• It has failed to keep pace with ongoing developments in self-perception of ethnicity and identity.

Any system of ethnic classification is inevitably a normative process of squeezing complex identities into specific categories, but these two developments suggest the current classification is even clumsier and out of touch than it might otherwise be.

A key reason why we have ethnic categories and undertake monitoring is in recognition of the need to understand the discrimination and systematic disadvantage visited upon different groups and identities.

How can an ethnic classification facilitate such understanding if it does not appreciate the ethnic diversity of a population?

It is of note to compare practice here with practice in the world of learning difficulties. There the concept of person centred planning is central. Why are not identical principles used in issues of ethnicity? If we truly wish to meet real needs, we must recognise people as they are, with their specific histories, languages, religions and cultures. It is logical and sensible to use interpreters, mediators, and support structures that are specific community based.

3. A one stop shop for the Somali Community

Solutions are about taking the concept of targeted services and developing appropriate models. Canada is already developing specific community one stop shops. This model should be developed in Britain, with appropriate governance, audit and quality control mechanisms.

Immigrant Serving Organisations

There are hundreds of immigrant-serving organizations in Canada . Many are staffed by former newcomers to Canada, who understand the challenges that immigrants may face. They usually have people available who speak your language and can accompany you as interpreters. Citizenship and Immigration Canada supports many of these organizations financially, helping newcomers adapt to life in Canada. Settling in will be much easier if you contact an immigrant-serving organization as soon as you arrive. The people who work for these organizations can help you find a place to live and can answer your questions about shopping, education for your children, transportation, language training and other important matters. Immigrant-serving organizations can help you:

• Find a place to live
• Get your Social Insurance Number and health-care card
• Enrol your children in school
• Get language training
• Find a family doctor
• Find out about government and community services for newcomers
• Look for a job
• Develop a realistic budget; and
• Get emergency food aid, if it is needed.

Most immigrant-serving organizations offer, or can provide information on, the following Government of Canada programs:

LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada)

LINC is a federal government program for all eligible adult immigrants. It offers:

• Free language training for adult newcomers who want or need basic English or French
• Language classes given by school boards, colleges and local organizations
• The choice of studying part time, full time, evenings or weekends, depending on your needs and your schedule; and
• Transportation and child minding, if necessary.

Host Program

The Host Program is a federally funded program that matches newcomers with a Canadian family or individual. Host volunteers help you:

• Overcome the stress of moving to a new country
• Learn about available services and how to use them
• Practise English or French
• Prepare to look for a job; and
• Participate in community activities.

Your local immigrant-serving organization can direct you to a Host Program organization in your community. Immigrant-serving organizations are prepared to help newcomers as soon as they arrive in Canada. These organizations can:

• Refer you to economic, social, health, cultural, educational and recreational services;
• Give you tips on banking, shopping, managing a household and other everyday tasks;
• Provide interpreters or translators, if you need them;
• Provide non-therapeutic counselling; and
• Help you prepare a professional-looking résumé and learn job-searching skills.

The Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP), a federal government program, pays for these services.

There are similar examples in London, for example:

Chinese National Healthy Living Centre

The Chinese National Healthy Living Centre was founded in 1987 to promote healthy living, and provide access to health services, for the Chinese community in the UK. The community is widely dispersed across the country and currently makes the lowest use of health services of all Minority Ethnic groups. The Centre aims to reduce the health inequality between the Chinese community and the general population.

Language difficulties and long working hours in the catering trade present major obstacles to many Chinese people in accessing mainstream health provision. Language and cultural barriers can result in their being given inappropriate health solutions. Isolation is a common problem amongst this widely dispersed community and can lead to a range of mental illnesses. The Centre, based close to London’s Chinatown, provides a range of services designed to tackle both the physical and psychological aspects of health.

The Chinese National Healthy Living Centre is currently funded by the New Opportunities Fund and works closely with both statutory and community organisations in order to deliver our mission. Current Funders include:

• Big Lottery Fund provides the core funding for the healthy living project from June 2000 to 2005.
• Association of London Governments: provides funding for the Disability Support Scheme Officer’s salary and subsidises the Carers Support Scheme.
• Department of Health: DoH funds the Drugs Misuse Needs Assessment.
• National Health Service provides funding for various projects and services, e.g. Chinese Walking to Health project and Smoking Cessation Scheme.
• British Heart Foundation are contributing to the Healthy Eating Project.
• King’s Fund, City Parochial Foundation, European Social Fund & CEMVO provide funding towards the London Advocacy Project.
• The Countryside Agency: provides funding for the Chinese Walking to Health project.
• The Health Foundation supports our Chinese Health Information Website and Internet Drop-in project.
• Heritage Lottery Fund provides funding towards the Chinese Reminiscence Project

As can be seen from the many sources of funding, funding is not a one-stop service!

The concept of the specific community one stop shop should be evolved as appropriate for all communities, in parallel with other methods of building social capital.

About Sahil

We are a Social Enterprise that aims to solve with the Somali Community and partners their issues by:

• Managing and developing decent affordable housing for Somali citizens
• Providing appropriate and joined up housing related solutions
• Being a voice for and with Somali citizens
• Working with partners to enable significant changes in the quality of life of an excluded community

Sahil wishes to:

• Establish long- term sustainable relationships with Councils, Housing Associations, and all stakeholders
• Provide a comprehensive excellent service for and with all Somali citizens
• Assist with stakeholders’ responsibilities for community engagement
• Build a model of excellence of BME services

The needs of the Somali Community

In July 2003 we launched significant research by Christine and Naomi Holman into the Somali Community in Hackney, and in October launched national research by Sheffield Hallam University into Somali housing issues at City Hall. We have assisted with research by the Information Centre on Asylum and Refugees at King’s College, London and with research into the Somali community by the Government Office for London.

With the Association of London Somali Organisations, we are probably the lead body nationally into the needs of and solutions to the issues faced by the Somali community.

There are levels of at least 70% unemployment. Amongst Somali women only 5% are employable because of their poor language skills. It is a community in crisis, but as The Housing Corporation has commented, we must think not in terms of hard to reach communities but hard to reach services.

The Somali Community is:

• A hidden community – due to weak or non-existent statistics and data; underdeveloped Somali organisations; widespread language barriers.
• An underserved and socially excluded community mainly of refugees, suffering in deprived areas, with ill health, high unemployment, low educational attainment and poor housing,
• A resourceful community – Rageh Omaar and Iman are Somalis. Many Somalis are qualified with degrees.

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