Bangladeshi Community in Church Street

There are currently estimated to be around 500,000 Bangladeshis living in the UK, including one of the largest London communities here in Church Street. Church Street has the largest Bangladeshi community in Westminster.

Immigration of Bangladeshis to the UK has happened over several decades and generations. For many the reason for leaving their homeland was for more opportunities, to find work and a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Changes in immigration laws in the 1970s encouraged a wave of immigration from Bangladesh. Many chose to settle and make the UK their home.

Many early migrants were men and they emigrated to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s to find employment following a number of political upheavals. Most headed for the big cities, London being one of them. Many came from the Sylhet Region which is located in the north-east of Bangladesh. There was a lot of work available in the ‘rag trade’ in local factories at the time. As an alternative to factory work a number decided to set up their own businesses including grocers and sari shops. Another popular choice was restaurants and this is a trade dominated by the Bangladeshis.

Church Street has a thriving community and the library is one place where the community meet regularly to take part in various social and educational events. The library works with a dedicated Bengali Outreach Worker, Mahbuba Khan, who works hard to make links in the community and create opportunities for learning and development through social events, craft and educational groups.