Leicestershire has a long history of settled Chinese communities with the first migrants arriving from Hong Kong in the 1960's. Many families came to Leicester seeking better opportunities and worked in the catering business.
Hong Kong born Andrew Poon came to Leicester in 1978 to study computing at Leicester polytechnic.
He said: "I found it easy to settle here people were welcoming, though at times I felt like a dummy because of communication problems."
Andrew had heard about the Chinese restaurants in Leicester before he arrived.
He recalled: "One of the first restaurants was on Granby Street called San Pan, Lotus House (now the Peking) was also one of the very first and was very popular."
Restaurant and takeaway owners were very active figures in the community organising social events and helped develop a community base for the Chinese in Leicester.
Poon said: "We didn't have much leisure time so the community wouldn't get together on such a regular basis, but we would eat together as a family and play Majoh (Chinese board game). Food is very important in Chinese culture."
During the 1980's there were more Chinese migrants coming to Leicester from Hong Kong due to the economic crisis at that time.
There was a demand for community facilities; a Chinese Society was set up, a lunch club for the elderly and a Chinese school at St Mathews Centre where Andrew Poon taught. The Chinese school now at the Chinese Community Centre has over 200 students.
The Chinese community continues to grow; Leicester's universities boast some of the highest number of students from Hong Kong and China in the UK. Attracted by the School of Business and IT, many graduates have settled in the region.
A thriving centre
|Angel Yeung co-ordinator for China Talks|
At the heart of this population is the Leicester Chinese Community Centre, a vibrant and thriving resource, serving the city and county's Chinese population for over twenty years.
The centre offers a range of facilities for young people and the elderly including mandarin lessons, Kung Fu classes, Chinese brush painting and more.
Angel Yeung is a student at De Montfort Universtiy and co-ordinator for China Talks, she said:
"China Talks offers a great opportunity for the public to explore the quintessence of the traditional and contemporary Chinese cultural life and arts. We gain precious experiences within the learning process of each milestone of this project."
Maria Poon is the Project Co-ordinator at Leicester 's Chinese Community Centre 170a BelgraveGate LE1 3XL Tel: 0116 2517583 Fax: 0116 2517583 email: email@example.com