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Over 12,000 older Chinese people facing ‘self-enforced segregation’ and a coronavirus-fuelled surge in racism will be helped by a new scheme running in the capital. Islington Chinese Association says its members are increasingly reluctant to go out due to negative comments prompted by ignorance around Covid-19. The charity...

Over 12,000 older Chinese people facing ‘self-enforced segregation’ and a coronavirus-fuelled surge in racism will be helped by a new scheme running in the capital.

Islington Chinese Association says its members are increasingly reluctant to go out due to negative comments prompted by ignorance around Covid-19.

The charity hopes to bridge the gap between Chinese communities and the wider community, reduce isolation and improve members’ wellbeing with a new scheme funded by a £250,000 grant from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder.

The project, entitled ‘Thriving beats surviving’, will enable befriending schemes, drop-in sessions, culture and leisure activities, while giving a voice to older Chinese residents – who often have limited English – and helping them access mainstream services.

Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “London boasts a long and well-established Chinese population, but often language and cultural barriers can be an obstacle to integration – both with other Chinese communities and the wider community.

“This scheme will help to bridge the gap, reduce isolation, and help older Chinese people to be more independent and resilient, which is needed more than ever at a time when they have had to face ignorance and racism prompted by ill-informed views on the pandemic.”

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The funding over five years will pay for a wellbeing and information officer who will recruit and co-ordinate volunteers and offer a culturally sensitive information and advocacy service alongside social and cultural activities.

The charity, founded in 1986, says it expects to help 12,000 older Chinese people, predominantly from Islington but also from neighbouring boroughs such as Camden, Hackney, Haringey and Westminster, many of whom face issues such as anxiety, loneliness or bereavement.

Katy Tse Blair, co-founder of Islington Chinese Association, said: “We often see Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong Chinese and Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese impose a kind of self-imposed segregation.

“They’re not always prepared to integrate and it’s not just the language barrier but the difference between their lifestyles, habits and aspirations.

 “This grant will enable us to provide more educational, cultural and social activities –  which are a great way to bring people together –  to give our members a voice, help them to thrive and build their confidence, which has suffered due to sometimes unintended racism and negative stereotypes about coronavirus.”

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