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Ethnic mix

1997 onwards

Waltham Forest can attract couples with forebears in different continents.  To take an example from the well-known, actress Natasha Little (TV parts from 1996), married to actor Bo Poraj, has been living in Leytonstone.  Only 2.51% of the population were described as of mixed race 1, a lower proportion than seems correct, and could well indicate a problem of identity that will be felt by a rising number of young people.  It is being handled every day by the area’s schools.  The election of Barack Obama as President of the United States provides an example of mixed parentage enabling personal success.

In 2001 30% of the people in Leyton had been born outside the European Union (this figure was calculated before the enlargement of  to include countries like Poland) 1.  40% described themselves as ‘white British’.  

1  Data taken from an Office for National Statistics website using the ONS’s ‘Super Output Area’ neighbourhood boundaries to recreate approximately the area covered by the former Borough of Leyton.

The United States of America has provided the example of a state with large numbers of people who have a heritage different from the northern European severe Protestants who gained independence from Britain, yet united in generally rising levels of prosperity and  healthcare.  All over the world better housing, more food and television have produced more relaxed societies.  Leyton has until now reflected the prosperity but not so markedly a peaceful tolerance of others.

The latest noticeable sources of immigrants are the countries in eastern Europe that recently joined the European Union, most prominently Poland.  In the streets and shops of the southern part of the Borough most voices have been speaking Slavonic languages.  Grocery shops have sections of Polish foods, and a few are devoted to such items.  These immigrants are young, well-dressed, and seem to have had no difficulty finding employment and somewhere to live.  There has been a national British enthusiasm for ‘buy to let’ : purchasing additional residential properties to rent them out and benefit from an expected increase in property values.  This may have enabled recent arrivals in Leyton to ease the cost of renting through high occupancy levels.  The implications for traditional policies on social housing and unemployment benefit are not discussed.

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