Brixton charity urges action over Covid crisis for Latin Americans

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IRMO puts on classes and workshops for the Latin-American community in Brixton

A Brixton-based charity reveals today (4 February) that half of Latin Americans in London are out of work as a result of the pandemic and one in seven are not registered with a GP,

“The lack of access to basic healthcare raises concerns about the rollout of the vaccine among the community,” said IRMO, the Indoamerican Refugee & Migrant Organisation.

Director Lucía Vinzón said: ““It is crucial that national and local authorities, including public health bodies, recognise this community as an ethnic minority in order to make visible the impacts of the pandemic and to ensure the vaccine reaches everyone.”

The research [PDF download] reveals a crisis made up of intersecting issues facing the Latin American community: rising unemployment, abusive employment practices, inadequate housing and increasing food poverty.

This is compounded by digital exclusion and the language barrier, meaning that many member of the community find it difficult to access mainstream support, the charity said.

Its research found that:

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  • 49% are out of work as a result of the pandemic
  • 1 in 7 are not registered with a GP
  • 60% are struggling to pay rent
  • Half are experiencing financial hardship 
  • A third are facing food poverty
  • 4 out of 10 have no internet at home, and 15% have no devices

“The research demonstrates the extreme hardships facing BAME migrant communities,” said IRMO.

“Often unaware of employment rights and with many on insecure job contracts, Latin Americans are being denied furlough and sick pay or are being made redundant without appropriate processes.

“Rogue landlords have continued to harass and evict people throughout lockdown.”

London’s  Latin American community is estimated to be the eighth largest non-UK born population in the city.

At around 145,000, is larger than, for instance, the Chinese community.

Latin Americans in London are concentrated in South London, with key populations in Lambeth and Southwark. 

IRMO said the community is well educated, with half having a university education. However, many struggle with a lack of English.

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Before the pandemic, Latin Americans already had very high rates of employment and were over-represented in low-paid sectors like office cleaning and hospitality.

Three quarters earned less than the London Living Wage.

Many member of the community live in inadequate and overcrowded private rented accommodation.

“The language barrier means that many Latin Americans struggle to access basic services to which they are entitled,” IRMO said

IRMO is a community-led organisation, and registered charity that helps Latin Americans to build secure, independent, and integrated lives in the UK.

Based in Overton Road by Max Roach Park, it has been working with Latin Americans in the UK for more than 35 years

IRMO said its response to the pandemic ranged from offering a higher number of advice appointments and expanding its food bank referral scheme, to offering new forms of support including check-in phone calls to vulnerable people and keeping the community up to date with multilingual information sheets.

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