Creating a contemporary profile of the Somali community in Camden

Sponsor: Somali Youth Development Resource Center (SYDRC)
Sponsor Liaison: Abdiwahab Ali, Yusuf Deerow, Muna Osman
Student Team: Spencer Francis, Roopsa Ghosh, Jackson Lombardi, Dillon McCarthy

UK organizations lack current data on the Somali community in the London borough of Camden.  This research aims to fill the gap in data in order to make more informed decisions regarding programs, policies, and services offered to the community.  Specifically, it investigates the challenges and accomplishments in the community under topics of education, employment, health, housing, identity, and safety.

To gather data, an online survey was distributed to members of the Camden community alongside focus groups, interviews, and conversations around the community.  The results suggest the community has ongoing problems with identity and youth safety paralleled with continued educational barriers.  Overcrowding is worsening, but prior problems with employment and health have greatly improved.


SYDRC Community Final Booklet

Supplemental Materials SYDRC

SYDRC Community Team Final Presentation


Somalia has yielded a wave of migration in the last thirty years as the Somali population has fled civil war amidst economic and political turmoil. Somali refugees have traveled to many parts of the world,
including Canada, the US, and the UK, but one of the largest Somali populations outside of Somalia resides in London. It is estimated that about 70,000 Somalis live in London, concentrated in the boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Tower Hamlets, and Camden. Unfortunately, the Somali community is concentrated in the less affluent parts of Camden and researchers concluded that Camden Somalis suffered from high rates of unemployment, impaired educational performance, poor and overcrowded housing, and other forms of deprivation often associated with immigrant populations.

The Somali Youth Development Resource Centre (SYDRC) is a community-based organization that has been supporting the Somali community in Camden since 2000. SYDRC provides a variety of services in the community, including workshops, information and training sessions, recreational activities, with a special emphasis on services for Somali youth. The SYDRC strives to improve the types and quality of services offered to the community but is hampered by a lack of data on the current challenges and opportunities in the community. In 2003, Khan and Jones published Somalis in Camden: Challenges Faced by an Emerging Community and in 2014 the Open Society Foundation published a report called Somalis in London. These are the only systematic appraisals of the state of the Somali community in the general area of London and in Camden in particular, and both are now quite dated. The SYDRC would like to have more current quantitative and qualitative data regarding the Somali community so that it can better plan for the future.

The overarching goal of this project was to inform the development and implementation of
additional services for the Somali community by creating a concise, coherent, and contemporary assessment of Somalis in Camden. To achieve this goal, our project team set four main objectives:

  • Understand the challenges, accomplishments and resources of the Somali community in
    Camden based on a review of prior research.
  • Collect current quantitative data on the Somali community in Camden.
  • Gather current qualitative data on the challenges and opportunities of the Somali
    community in Camden.
  • Develop a suite of materials (e.g., written report, infographics) to highlight our findings and
    compare them to earlier data in an effective and accessible manner.

In addition to gathering information from other researchers, we conducted our own research
through surveys, interviews, and focus groups with Somali adults and youth, business owners,
community and religious leaders, teachers of Somali students, and Camden Council members.
We contrasted the contemporary profile that emerged from our research with previous benchmarks to document progress and struggles in the community. Our findings will guide the future work of the SYDRC organization and will provide evidence that can be used to secure funding and support for its services.