Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Irish emigrants in London experience culture shock, report finds

New Irish arrivals in London experience culture shock and anxiety, a major new report by the London Irish Centre and the Federation of Irish Societies has found.

Tue, Oct 30, 2012, 21:40



Click on the image to read an executive summary of the report.

Many recent Irish migrants to London experience culture shock and anxiety because they are not properly prepared for life in the UK.

A major new report by the London Irish Centre and the Federation of Irish Societies into the experiences of vulnerable Irish people in London has found that 11.2 per cent of new Irish arrivals to the city have experienced anxiety or depression, with a substantial number citing a lack of planning as a major cause of stress.

A total of 855 people were surveyed, including recent arrivals, older people, second generation Irish, and carers. The study is the first large-scale examination of the needs of the vulnerable Irish community in London.

The majority of recent migrants from Ireland surveyed were between the ages of 18 and 35 and had moved to London because they couldn’t find work in Ireland. Many reported experiencing culture shock, especially in relation to the competition for housing and employment.

Most had found good jobs in London, with 55.9 per cent working in intermediate managerial, administrative or professional occupations, and 10.8 per cent employed in manual jobs.

Some 94.7 per cent of recent migrants reported poor or moderate levels of social support, but those who had established social networks through sports clubs such as the GAA reported more positive adjustment to life in London.

Many of those surveyed lacked knowledge about what services Irish community organisation provide and who they cater for, but those who used them reported a better knowledge of their rights and entitlements and felt more fairly treated.

New arrivals said they had experienced very positive attitudes towards their ethnicity, but found traditional “paddy” jokes and stereotypical assumptions disturbing.

The London Irish Centre and the Federation of Irish Societies have called for an awareness raising campaign to reduce the number of Irish people moving to London without undertaking appropriate planning, and to increase engagement with culturally sensitive services on arrival to the UK.

Speaking at the publication of the report in Westminster today, London Irish Centre director of care Jeff Moore said the findings show the need for greater awareness among frontline social workers of the specific needs of the Irish community.

“Recent Irish migrants, older Irish people and Irish carers lack appropriate social support, feel that mainstream services do not meet their needs and have a preference for culturally sensitive services,” he said.

A quarter of the overall sample reported that they are not in good health. Almost one in five of those aged between 50 and 64 reported high blood pressure, which doubled for those aged over 60.

Dr Mary Tilki, Chair of Federation of Irish Societies who co-authored the report said the data should be used to ensure local and regional planning for social services includes detailed information on the needs of the Irish community.

“Mainstream organisations must improve front-line workers’ awareness of the rights of recently arrived Irish people,” she said.

See the executive summary or the full report for more detail.