Newly arrived Hong Kongers and local people united over afternoon tea in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee in Sutton’s Manor Park. With both Hong Kongers and Brits loving their own version of a traditional afternoon tea the 100 guests enjoyed a cup of English breakfast tea alongside Hong Kong ‘milk tea’ whilst getting to know each other over Victoria sponge cake and pineapple buns from Hong Kong.
Recent government figures reveal that more than 110,000 Hong Kongers have been granted visas to come and live in the UK since the British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)) scheme for people in Hong Kong was opened on 31 January 2021 (2). Sutton is a popular destination with estimates being that around 2,000 have settled in the Greater London borough with another 3,000 expected to come this year.
Among the many people attending the celebration, hosted by local charity Volunteer Centre Sutton which runs the Integrating Sutton project to welcome Hong Kongers, was local Sutton resident Emma, her husband David and son Eden.
Emma said: “I want people to feel welcome when they arrive here. I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to come from Hong Kong to live somewhere completely new with different systems and language. The Queen’s Jubilee celebrations are a perfect chance for people to take a couple of hours out to relax together and have conversations that might not happen otherwise.”
Bonnie, who moved to Sutton from Hong Kong and enjoyed a jubilee cuppa with Emma and her family, said: "Any chance to meet more local people is great. For the Jubilee my son’s school are doing a picnic and in the nursery where I work they are having a garden party. This is our first time to celebrate such things, it seems a huge event and it's good to be a part of it all. Sometimes when we talk with British people the language and topics they chat about can be hard to get into so chances to meet and mix are important."
Anita Maullin, CEO of Volunteer Centre Sutton, said:
“Today’s been a wonderful event. It’s been lovely to see local people and newly-arrived Hong Kongers enjoying the Jubilee celebrations. I’m really proud to be part of a team welcoming and supporting Hong Kongers to settle happily into Sutton.”
Councillor Trish Fivey, Mayor of the London Borough of Sutton, said: “I’m delighted to be attending this special event to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, and to have the opportunity to meet some of the many Hong Kongers who have settled in Sutton in recent months. As a borough we are incredibly proud that so many Hong Kongers have chosen Sutton as the place they want to live. What better way to celebrate the occasion than with our shared love of tea, bringing together newly arriving Hong Kongers and local residents.”
Janet Lo arrived in the UK from Hong Kong with her husband and two children in August 2021. She said:
"My family feel lucky to be here in the UK at the time of the Jubilee, as we are able to meet and celebrate with more local people in our community. Celebrating the Queen together at a local event is a precious opportunity to get to know each other better and a great chance to practise our English, which helps us to make more friends.”
Eric Wong (44) came to the UK from Hong Kong in December 2020 and founded Trini, the company making milk tea for today’s event. He said:
"Milk tea is a special drink for Hong Kongers, it is not just about the taste but also the memories of home it brings. I am really happy that I’m able to share my skills and passion for making milk tea with local people in Sutton as we all celebrate the Queen's Jubilee together. There is a historical connection between Hong Kong milk tea and the British tea culture so I hope the tea can be a bridge between our two communities, helping them to understand us and hopefully we can mix more."
Daniel Korski, Chair of the Welcoming Committee for Hong Kongers, said:
"The Jubilee is a brilliant opportunity to bring together communities and break down barriers. Meeting local people and building relationships is so important for new arrivals in Britain, from Hong Kong or elsewhere. It’s essential if people are to settle and feel at home.
"Hong Kongers and Brits both share a fondness for a cup of tea – so what better way to find common ground than by chatting over a cuppa as we celebrate the Queen's 70 years on the throne."