All the way from Hong Kong to Trafford - and settling in well

hair salon

Will Yu, Martin Cheung and Eagco Leung of CLS Hair Studio in Sale

Trafford is very proud of its diverse and multicultural communities and families and workers from overseas are always given a warm welcome in our borough. We revealed recently how hundreds of residents from the far Eastern country of Hong Kong have made the difficult decision to leave friends and family behind to relocate to our very own Trafford. So how are they settling in? We’ve been finding out.

Trafford and Hong Kong could not be more different. Hong Kong has a population of more than seven million people, is made up of huge skyscrapers and sits proudly on the coast just off the border with China. Trafford has a population of around 240,000, is beautiful but much quieter and sits next to the city of Manchester.

There are of course other massive differences – language, culture, politics, weather, food, to name just a few. But despite the differences, an estimated 800 people have left Hong Kong behind to settle in the leafy suburbs of Trafford – so how are they getting on?

Father-of-one Chun Yin Mak, who lives in Sale, left Hong Kong exactly a year ago and settled in Trafford in April 2021. Chun, whose English name is Alex, is loving life in Trafford and has set up a community interest group – Trafford Hongkongers CIC - with his friends to help others settle in the borough.

Chun works from home full-time for another group called Hongkongers in Britain and spends his 'leisure' time on Trafford Hongkongers CIC. He said:

“I am delighted to have made the move to Trafford and I set up the group to help others from Hong Kong settle in. They have moved thousands of miles away from family and it can be quite difficult to begin with. But the Council here is very helpful and local people are very friendly – so that has made it easier.

Hong Kong and Trafford are very different indeed. Hong Kong can be very suffocating and is very crowded. Trafford is far less populated and there are so many advantages to being here. There are many green areas in Trafford and we can see the sky and the birds here unlike in Hong Kong and other large cities like London.

We also decided on Trafford because of the schools, the job opportunities and the fantastic transport system. The borough is very accessible and there are plenty of opportunities here. I feel like it will be a great place to bring my child up.”

Trafford Council have been working very closely with the Trafford Hongkongers CIC to look at the needs of the residents and to identify what advice and support can be offered to help them settle and feel part of the community. An Employment support and Information session held at UA92 earlier this year was a huge success with over 200 Hong Kong newcomers attending. Agencies that attended to offer advice and information along with Trafford Council included the National Careers Service, DA Languages, Trafford College, UA92 and the Growth Company.

The UK Government offered those living in Hong Kong the ability to claim a British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport prior to the handover of Hong Kong back to China in 1997. In June 2020, in response to new security laws affecting BN(O) citizens of Hong Kong, the UK government announced its intention to provide a route for Hong Kong citizens with British National (Overseas) status, and their dependents, to come to the UK to live and work. Trafford was seen as a popular choice because of its fabulous schools, great job opportunities, housing and green spaces.

Luci Cheung, aged 29, runs the Asgard Groceries in Altrincham and is enjoying the time he is spending in Trafford. Mr Cheung, who arrived in Trafford in February last year, lives in Sale. He said:

“I came over to Trafford with my girlfriend and her parents. My parents are still in Hong Kong."

The community where we live and work is really nice and we find it very easy to get around thanks to the Metro. Trafford is very different to Hong Kong but we’re enjoying our lives here and delighted that business is picking up after the lockdown period.”

Jeffrey Koo, aged 43, has been living in Trafford for 18 months since moving from Hong Kong. Mr Koo, who runs a Hong Kong-style bakery A Little Sweet on School Road in Sale, said:

“I arrived during one of the early lockdowns and looked everywhere for a shop to open. Sale is a great place to live and work. Business is up and down but gradually getting better. I have lots of customers who like the style of food we are producing.”

Father-of-two Will Yu, Martin Cheung and Eagco Leung, run the CLS Hair Studio on Washway Road in Sale. Mr Yu, aged 40, said:

“It’s really great being in Trafford and we are finding that business is good. Local people have been very supportive and customers seem very happy. The lifestyle in Trafford is better than in Hong Kong where it is just so fast all the time.”

Cllr Andrew Western, Leader of Trafford Council, said he was delighted so many Hong Kong nationals had chosen Trafford as their new home. Cllr Western said:

“Trafford is a fantastic place to live with amazing schools, fabulous communities, green spaces and international sports stadiums. I am delighted so many families and individuals from Hong Kong have decided to make Trafford their home. It can’t have been easy to make the decision to move so far away from family and friends.

Trafford Council officers have been working very closely with the Trafford Hongkongers CIC group to help newcomers settle into their new surroundings, find employment and become a flourishing part of the diverse communities in Trafford. We have held a number of support and information sessions to help people settle in. The Hong Kong community are really keen to be central to their communities and become a part of the diverse life we all enjoy in the borough. Many have found employment in Trafford and others are travelling outside the borough for work.

The Hong Kong residents came to Trafford to give themselves and their children a better life and must be applauded for that. A big welcome to you all!”

The Hong Kong nationals continue to inspire staff at Trafford Council with their ability to integrate, their hard-working attitude and keenness to set up their own businesses in the borough.

Going forward, the Council will continue to work with Trafford Hongkongers CIC to promote local recruitment opportunities, prepare guidance for local employers on the working rights of the residents and provide ESOL provision to strengthen their English language skills in preparation for work.

Posted on Friday 25th March 2022