Recent arrivals’ oral histories

People who arrived from the Caribbean in the 1950s aboard ships such as the Windrush and more recent arrivals have recorded their stories, showing how people coming to Bristol continue to contribute to Bristol’s unique culture.



Fatuma eventually came to Bristol from Somalia after a traumatic escape on foot. She felt welcomed to the UK and feels safe here.

Pamela and Thomas

Pamela and Thomas both came to Bristol from Jamaica as children. Pamela had lived in a rural community with her Grandmother and it was tough being reunited with her parents whom she barely knew. Pamela and Thomas met at school in Bristol and describe their school experiences.

Z from Iran

Z came from Iran. To begin with she found it strange that people in the UK do not share food, but is happy that her children are settled here.


Mahfouz came from rural Pakistan as a child, the day she arrived was very exciting, but there were also things about life here that she found shocking. She didn’t know how to cross the road and nearly got run over, when she saw police she was afraid.

D from Somalia

M came from Somalia, escaping the war. She misses the space she had there, and her extended family, and felt isolated to begin with, but she appreciates living in a multi-ethnic community.


Amina is Somali and arrived in the UK as a refugee and was moved around between various hostels where she experienced discrimination, before getting her own place.


Johanna came to Bristol from France but started her life in Croatia. She loves being in Stokes Croft for the freedom she feels, for the space to be herself and for all the different people she meets.

Lillieth and Canute

Father and daughter Canute and Lillieth both came from Jamaica. Canute originally came to the UK to join the army in the war and later in the 50’s came over to work. Lillieth is a historian and describes her experiences as part of the Windrush Generation. As a child her aunt Myra gently let her know she was going to move by predicting it in the tea leaves. Lillieth describes living in St Pauls in the 1980’s.


Zahara came as a refugee from Somalia as a young woman and misses her old life. She likes the quiet life that Bristol offers as compared with London, and she makes sure her children are brought up with both English and Somali cultures.


Jeram came from Kosovo as a refugee and lived initially in a Reception Centre. He came to Bristol to work for Refugee Action. His first impression of Bristol was being woken by seagulls, and he loves the city’s multiculturalism. Now he is married and visits Kosovo with his children.


Karla came from Chile to Bristol as a teenager. Thinking about the Andes makes her homesick and her children all have different relationships with Chile. Karla visits her parents when she can.

J from Zimbabwe

J, a Zimbabwean, moved to Bristol after studying in London, and has settled here. The reality of the UK did not fit the glittering image he had before he came.


Rosa came to Bristol from Hong Kong 50 years ago, aged 17. For the last 24 years she has run Bristol and Avon Chinese Women’s Group and describes how it all came about.