The heart of London’s Bangaldeshi community, now numbering more than 50,000, is Brick Lane. This centuries-old street running from Whitechapel to Bethnal Green is sometimes termed ‘Bangla Town’.
Many Bengali families still live in the red brick council blocks between Cable Street and across Commercial Road to Mile End Road. This is in stark contrast to nearby Canary Wharf, with its financial institutions, or the opulent riverside apartments of Wapping and Limehouse.
The problems of the community are further complicated by a language barrier and overcrowding as well as a lack of modern skills. However, this is a changing scenario. Increased Bengali school and university attendance suggest better prospects for the next generation.
A blossoming Bengali music scene, backed by two local radio stations, and five Bengali newspapers, are all helping to break down the barriers of language isolation.