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Greater acceptance of Lunar New Year in UK now, says community centre director

There is a greater “acceptance” of East and Southeast Asian culture in the UK, a Chinese community centre director has said, as she celebrates the Lunar New Year.

Beverley Lin, from Greenwich, south London, is centre director of the London Chinese Community Centre (LCCC) which is known as the oldest Chinese community centre in London and was established 45 years ago in 1979.

The centre, in Leicester Square, central London, was set up to provide help and support for migrants from east and south-east Asian (ESEA) countries with welfare, housing, medical and financial problems.

Ms Lin, who has worked at the centre since 2019, believes there are more people across the UK celebrating Lunar New Year with the Chinese community, and there is a greater “acceptance” of this event compared with 15 years ago when the LCCC began electronic record keeping.

She told the PA news agency: “During my years working (at LCCC), I can see that more people celebrate with us actually.

Chinese paintings
The London Chinese Community Centre offers workshops to celebrate and highlight Chinese culture (London Chinese Community Centre/PA)

“Maybe five years ago it was just us celebrating, but now I can see more companies or more people are actually interested to know what are we doing and like to celebrate with us.

“I think that’s the way it should be. I feel like a lot of people do appreciate our Chinese culture, which is great and I feel good about it.

“I think the key word is acceptance.”

Ms Lin said celebrating Lunar New Year, which falls on Saturday, helps her to feel in touch with her roots and gives her fond memories of her childhood.

She said: “With the celebration of the new year, it brings back your sense of identity.

“You’re coming back to your roots or even childhood memories.”

This year marks the Year of the Dragon, which Ms Lin described as “significant”.

“The dragon has always played a significant part in Chinese culture. It comes only once every 12 years, so it’s important,” she said.

Two people creating a marionette
The London Chinese Community Centre is known as the oldest Chinese community centre in London (London Chinese Community Centre/PA)

To mark the Lunar New Year, Ms Lin said the community centre will take part in several events including a traditional music performance of the guzheng, a Chinese stringed instrument, in Chinatown on Saturday and a charity sales event at Trafalgar Square on Sunday.

The celebrations continue throughout the month including a family day at Brent Cross shopping centre, north London, on February 17 and a New Year lunch party at the LCCC on February 22.

Her focus for the community centre is to promote better health and wellbeing services for the local community.

“Hopefully this year, apart from all the usual things that we’ll be doing at the centre, I wanted to pay more focus on health,” she said.

“In general, I think that is a lot more important than any wealth or fortunes you might have.

“I would like to work with Chinese doctors or western doctors to provide more services to our members.”

Ms Lin hopes to create more “solidarity” for the ESEA community in the UK by continuing to highlight Chinese culture.

“I think the main message I just wanted to say, the key word is solidarity,” she said.

“I love to see multiculturalism really happening in the country. I hope everyone can live all together and accept everyone.”

“I’m hoping the new year will give people prosperity and positive energy.”