This photo-story documents the Latin American community in Elephant and Castle area of London, which after 20 years, is threatened by one of the biggest the regeneration development in Europe. The material presented here is the result of a 3 years-long research project in collaboration with NGO by Latin Elephant that involved consultations, active photographic sessions with the retailers of London’s Latin Quarter, a short documentary, consultation events, workshops, mapping, surveys and interviews and social encounters around salsa music . Thanks to retailers without whom these photographic narratives would not have been possible; and to Latin Elephant’s research team: Ingrid Guyon, Nicola Hill, Patria Roman and Silvia Rothlisberger.
Elephant and Castle is a deprived inner city area of London that is undergoing an ambitious programme of urban redevelopment, one of Europe’s largest city centre . Although there has been a recognition from the Southwark Council that Elephant and Castle is the “Latin Quarter” of London, there retailers feel that the information they received from developers and the Council is confusing and that consultation has not focused on their immediate needs but on future developments. has been very little actual consultation and very little real information being passed down from the Council, the Shopping Centre and other agents in the regeneration telling all local traders what is happening and what might be happening to them. The redevelopment plans for E&C has been received with scepticism by Latin American local retailers who despite welcoming some of the changes, fear for their sustainability and future presence in the area.
Latin Americans, the cafes, restaurants and shops fulfil an important community role some even become doubling as service places to find advise and support advice centres.
“Latin American people come to Elephant and Castle for many reasons. Because they don’t speak English, or they have just arrived in London and they’re looking for information about National Insurance, getting a doctor, a school or looking for work and accommodation.The new shopping centre will be bringing in the big brands, that practicallydominate the market. I don’t know if we’ll be able - small businesses like us -to compete with the higher rents or to compete”, says Alejandro.