We are all brothers here

Photographer Paul Alexander Knox set out to document the Bangladeshi community in Sunderland.

Sitting around the table at The Bangladeshi Centre in Sunderland, the elders told us about their journeys to England. They were part of a wave of Bangladeshi men coming to Britain in the 1960s under the Ministry of Labour voucher programme. Many worked their way here on the ships, arriving in the dock towns then spreading out across the country.

Photography by Paul Alexander Knox

Photography by Paul Alexander Knox

Syed Ansaf Ali went to Amsterdam first but he wanted to come to England. When I asked why here, Omar, son of one of the elders, looked at us with a serious face: “He fancied the Queen.” His face erupted in a smile. All the men laughed then spoke amongst themselves in Bengali. There was warmth, an ease between the men. Abu Shama, the centre manager, pulled the conversation back to the topic. “England was familiar; the men were born when Bangladesh was India, under the rule of the King.” English reserve was compatible with Islam. They also had cricket.


Read the full version in The Northern Correspondent #5