People Library

Residents’ voices from around the world

Living Here

Bradford is known as a wonderfully diverse global city, with people both present and past having come from around the world. Now, two residents have compiled a list of those countries represented by the current population, together with interviews from many of them.  Surprisingly perhaps, no one has done this before.   

A total of 82 countries were found, including some from each continent.  There could be more.  Non-resident students were not included.  Of course, there are many more languages than countries.

As there are no direct sources of information, the research required a ‘multiple contacts technique’, involving finding and asking as many individual people as possible.  This included a short interview with one person who either came, or their parents came, from elsewhere in the world. 

The interview topics covered why and when they or their parents came, what particularly attracted them to Bradford and why they had stayed.  Everyone was very pleased to talk about this, whether from Scotland, Spain, Syria, South Africa or anywhere else, including Bradford itself.  Many came for job and family reasons. People said they remained because of the friendly nature of the District and its people. That was repeated over and over again in the responses and was very gratifying to hear. 

‘We did this research on our own initiative’ said one of the organisers, Mollie Somerville,  ‘because we thought it would be a positive contribution to understanding the development of the city. Indeed, what we are seeing now is a continuation of Bradford’s two hundred year history of welcoming.   It is clear evidence that we live, and have always lived, in an interconnected world’.

‘We believe that this is a unique compilation, both to Bradford and to cities elsewhere.’

‘We were not asked, nor commissioned, to do this by anyone’ said the co-contributor, Peter Nias.  ‘We interviewed just one, or occasionally two, residents who were from each country, no matter the overall numbers across the District. We would like to thank all who were interviewed, as well as those who helped to find people to interview. 

All face-to-face interviews were completed before the Covid-19 restrictions of March 2020.

Respondents could use a first name or a pseudonym, as preferred.

‘The publication of the research aims to encourage and inspire those from within and outside the District to use the information for positive creative endeavours’ said Mollie. ‘We hope it will be used in schools, youth and community groups, as well as by individuals and civic leaders when talking about the city and District’.

The report will be in the Local Studies library and a digital copy is available free on request to anyone from (01274-414891) or (01274- 493191)

Selected quotations from some interviews:

I was born and bred in Bradford, as were my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. I’m committed to the city.

I was born and brought up in Northern Ireland.  I came over (for a job) in the 1960’s and worked at Grattan before becoming a student teacher in Leeds, commuting from Bradford.  I met my wife-to-be at the station!  Yorkshire people are very friendly and welcoming. 

I came from Germany originally. I (then) met my husband in Samoa.  We later got jobs in Bradford where we raised our family.

I am from Hungary and my name is Attila (yes, really!).  I came to Bradford in 1957,choosing here because there was a local Hungarian football team.  I stayed for job reasons, married an English lady and made our home in the city.

I  grew up in two different traditions, Ukrainian and British.  I like Bradford because the people are friendly and I enjoy meeting people of different faiths, backgrounds and nationalities.

My parents and grandparents originally came from Kutch in western India. They later moved to Uganda and then to Kenya before coming to the UK.  I came to Bradford to study and then for employment, staying because of family and work.

I was born and brought up in Azad Kashmir and came to Bradford 50 years ago.  I like living in Bradford.

My parents came from the Philippines in 2000 but I was born here.  They came to work for the NHS and have stayed since.  Bradford is very quiet.  That’s why they like it but I want to study abroad somewhere.

I was born in Rwanda but lived as a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo before coming, as a young person, with my parents to Bradford in the early 2000’s.  I call myself British-Congolese. After having studied here I now work in the city.

I came to Bradford from Malawi 15 years ago.  Bradford welcomes refugees from all over and everyone is helpful. People say “Hi” to you. I’ve been welcomed in church.  I like that there are people of many different backgrounds here. I don’t know where I’ll be in the future.  Maybe I’ll travel to visit other places and then decide.

I originally came from Sierra Leone to study in Bradford.  After that I left to do training in Nottingham and then had a job in London. Then in 2000 I had the opportunity for a posting to Bradford. Since I had been in the city before and liked it I chose to come back and have been here ever since. I’ve stayed not least because people around where I am have been so kind.

I was born in Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, and came to the UK when I was 17, living in London for some years.  I then came to Bradford and married here and brought up my family.  We have stayed here because we’ve put down our roots, are part of the local community and very much like it.  We also like the diverse population of the District.

Originally from Brazil, I came to Bradford in 1997 but had been in Leeds prior to that.  I was a lecturer in Portuguese.  I came to Bradford to help my sister and brother-in-law with childcare for their son as they I love Bradford.  It has the best park in the country. I know every tree in Lister park and have taken photos of all the different seasons over the years.

I came to Derby from Jamaica at the beginning of 1962 and worked there for 9 months.  I then went to a wedding in Bradford in September of that year and I found the atmosphere here so different.  People seemed loving and caring.  I went back to Derby and the following week I moved to Bradford and have been here ever since. 

I was born and brought up in the USA.  I came to Bradford in 1991 for work. I’ve stayed in Bradford because I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had here, and got married here too.

To read all of the individual stories click here.