Fears elderly Chinese 'isolated' over language barrier

Swan Gardens residents Image copyright Fun Wong
Image caption Chinese residents living in Swan Gardens, Swansea, a retirement complex aimed at residents who do not speak English

Elderly Chinese people living in Wales are becoming increasingly isolated by language barriers, a charity has warned.

The Chinese in Wales Association said many had mental health problems because they are unable to socialise with English-speaking neighbours.

It warned their isolation was getting worse as many relied on their children to translate who had since left home.

The charity made the comments ahead of its launch in Swansea on Wednesday.

In 2004 Swan Gardens opened in Swansea, a retirement village aimed at Chinese people who struggle to speak English, thought to be the first of its kind in Wales.

Many of the Chinese population came to Wales in the 1970s and 80s, with most of their children speaking fluent English and translating for their parents.

Shirley Au-Yeung, the association's founder, said as children grew up and moved away their parents were being left with no one to help them understand basic things, including letters from the hospital.

She said: "They straight away went to work in takeaways and laundrettes. They worked seven days a week so they didn't have the opportunity to improve their language.

"They communicated in a very small group of mainly Chinese people."

The association will launch a number of activities in a bid to tackle isolation.

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