Southwark Council officially recognises its Latin American Community

Southwark Council will now include ‘Latin American’ in the ethnicity section of the council’s monitoring forms, the first council in the country to do so.

This important step will not only help the council to monitor participation in meetings and consultations to ensure it is properly engaging with all of the borough’s diverse communities, but will mean the Latin American community in Southwark is placed on equal footing with other ethnic groups.

Southwark has one of the largest Latin American communities in the country, predominently made up of Colombians and Ecuadorians, living around Elephant and Castle where a large number of businesses in the area are run by and for Latin Americans.

Southwark Council already supports groups such as Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) which offers advice and support to Latin Americans in Southwark and previously hosted the biggest Latin American festival in Europe – Carnival Del Pueblo.

Cllr Claire Hickson, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Community Engagement, said: “Southwark has a large and vibrant Latin American population so I am pleased that we are leading the way as the first council in the country to offer the community official recognition.

“It may only be a first step but one that the community has been campaigning for and a good starting point for ensuring that we are listening to the Latin American community across our work.”

Carolina Gottardo, Director of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, said:”Southwark Council has taken an important step in the right direction towards recognition of the Latin American community, opening the path for other Councils to follow.

“The Latin American community has been an invisible community that highly contributes to the UK but whose contributions have been largely ignored in terms of strategy, policy and practice. We need full recognition as an ethnic minority to be able to access services and exercise our rights.

“Southwark Council is currently setting best practice and we are very pleased with this development.”