Empowering individuals & creating community: Thai perspectives on life in Britain

Document type
Sims, Jessica Mai
Runnymede Trust
Date of publication
1 February 2008
Runnymede community studies
Minority Groups
Social welfare
Material type

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This report focuses on Thais in the UK because of the lack of constructive information about them. Seeking to go beyond the stereotypes to discover the everyday realities of Thais in Britain, this report reflects on individuals’ stories of migration and settlement, and aims to challenge the trope of the ‘Thai bride’ by presenting individuals’ voices, opinions and perspectives. Though this report is not definitive, it does provide an opportunity to understand the demography and history of Thais in the UK, and the areas in which policy can address relevant concerns.

The major points of discussion arising from the survey, interview and focus group data focus on the areas of education, employment, health, discrimination and community development. Because Thais represent a migrant group, their health and well-being is influenced by living in a new country where rights and entitlements, language and culture are often different from those of their home country. For those who are migrating, employment becomes a primary condition for settlement. Many Thai migrants reported the need for employment-related training to supplement their existing qualifications and English-language classes to help them improve their employment opportunities.

Thai women involved in the research recognised the need for fluency in English to help them make informed choices and lead independent lives. For example, many feared that language barriers combined with ignorance of rights would lead to otherwise avoidable health risks and even render Thai women more vulnerable to domestic violence. compounding these policy areas is the overwhelming feeling from the research participants that Thai people are stereotyped and discriminated against in British society, influencing both their public and private lives. The impact of these policy concerns, along with the desire to challenge negative perceptions of Thais has prompted a grassroots movement towards building a Thai community.

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