Skills Rethink director Sagufta Nasreen celebrates Newham’s 50th birthday


- Credit: Archant

Thousands of local residents are enjoying the celebration parties held to mark the 50th anniversary of London Borough of Newham.

It is an interesting time in the history of Newham that reflects on how the local communities have evolved in the last 50 years and also highlights the significant role played by our diverse community in its progress.

We are celebrating being the youngest and ethnically the most diverse borough in Britain, with people who are proud to be British by choice!

My neighbour, Zuhra, is an 80-year-old Pakistan- born lady, who arrived in Newham in 1971 to follow her (now late) husband who made Newham his home in the 1960s. Her story resonates with millions of migrants in Britain today. She worked really hard to support her family financially. Her story is evidence of the contribution that our elders have made to the success of Newham and to the success of modern day Britain.

Zuhra told me: “I used to work at the cloth press shop around the corner of the Green Street. There used to be a big press shop owned by a white person in those days, it has all changed now.”

She also worked in a sewing factory, for years, along with looking after her two sons. “Life was very hard back then, nothing was given to us on a plate. There were times when we didn’t have a room to stay in, me and my husband had to juggle between looking after our children and work, otherwise we couldn’t afford the rent and to eat.”

She could not visit Pakistan for 10 years while her parents and many close relatives passed away,

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“We didn’t have the money to pay for the air fare.

“It was a choice to save up to have a house for our children or to travel to Pakistan, it was a very hard decision not to go.”

While we celebrate the history and success of Newham, we must remember the sacrifice made by people of all backgrounds in its development. As Newham’s coat of arms translates, “Progress with people”! More from Shagufta