Business / Economy

Northern city throws its doors open

By Cecily Liu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-29 06:57

Northern city throws its doors open

Bonnie Yeung, owner and marketing manager of Yang Sing, a restaurant in Manchester's Chinatown. CECILY LIU/CHINA DAILY

"There are many local government decisions that affect our member businesses, like significant road work or construction work. We have to communicate the details to our members and make sure they have a say in these community issues."

Today's Chinese community has a lot more support than the first wave of migrants, and this change is perhaps reflected in the changes in the Wai Yin Society, a community center that supports local residents.

Sylvia Sham, the society's CEO, says her team has grown from a few staff members when she joined in 1998 to 40 staff members today.

What originally began as a center to support Chinese women has expanded to support all kinds of people within the Chinese community as well as other ethnic communities in Manchester.

The society, founded in 1988, was initially set up to help Chinese women handle issues such as family violence and language barriers and encourage them to integrate more with local society. But it eventually broadened its focus, realizing that changing family dynamics would involve a lot more than helping the women.

"As women have their father, sons, brothers, and other members of the family, the Wai Yin Society decided to open its doors to the whole family," Sham says.

The center's mission has also increased from purely social services and language training to include many more activities, events and educational courses.

One of its venues is a dedicated senior care home, where elderly Chinese people visit to eat and take part in social activities. Sometimes they go out for lunch or other activities, and the premises are then used to host activities for people from other ethnic backgrounds.

The center's success would not have been possible without dedication from Sham, who arrived in the UK in 1987, initially to study for a diploma in childcare, and who continued her studies to eventually obtain a doctorate degree in education.

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