The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, hosted a citizenship ceremony on Friday 17 May at the Tower of London, where 36 new British citizens swore their allegiance to Queen and country in front of friends and family.
The council’s Register Office organised the ceremony where Mayor Biggs and Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council met the proud British citizens who have come from all walks of life and across the globe.
Mayor Biggs said: “It was fascinating to meet our new British citizens and hear about their experiences and what it means to them to be British. Tower Hamlets is one of the country’s most diverse and vibrant places to live and I am proud that so many people have chosen our borough to be their new home.”
The capital’s population is rapidly growing and changing – with a high percentage of people moving to London coming from abroad. The Government has already made the case for the rights of EU citizens to be protected following the triggering of Article 50, and an integral part of these plans will be to support the take up of British citizenship by Londoners from the EU and abroad.
Tower Hamlets continues to be one of the fastest growing, youngest and most diverse populations in the UK.
Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council said: “Tower Hamlet’s diversity is one of its great strengths and it is a place where you can achieve great things no matter what your background.”
Over 30,000 people have been naturalised as British in the borough since ceremonies began in 2004. 70 group citizenship ceremonies and 340 private ceremonies were conducted by the Tower Hamlets Register Office last year. This equates to more than 2,000 certificates of naturalisation being processed by the service.
A significant proportion of the borough’s international migration has come from the European Union. In 2011, one in ten of the borough’s residents were born in EU countries (other than the UK).
Maria Deleu who is originally from Brazil has waited 10 years to be a British citizen. She said: “I feel emotional as I have waited 10 years for this moment. My son came here 15 years ago from Brazil so I love living in the UK. Today, being at the Tower of London is fantastic. I’d never visited before so it’s a special day and I’m very happy. I’ve lived in Tower Hamlets at Island Gardens for five years and I love it, it’s a friendly community.”
Mohamed Ahmed Ducale from Somalia added: “I’m very happy today. It’s one of the best days of my life. I lived in Tower Hamlets for over 20 years mainly around Bow. The thing I like about Tower Hamlets is that it’s a multicultural place. It’s welcoming and a nice area to live.”
Marta Guasch from Spain said: “I’m excited to become a British Citizen I’ve lived here for seven years and I want to live my life in the UK.
“I love Tower Hamlets. I live in Cambridge Heath and I feel it’s changed a lot since I moved to the area but it’s preserved the essence that makes it special. The cultural diversity and inclusion is great everyone is welcome.”