Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, today hosted an event at Westminster celebrating and promoting the work of the Shpresa Programme in aiding the Albanian-speaking diaspora in London. The successful event, attracting close to a hundred guests, saw speeches from Stephen, and David Adair (Head of Community Affairs at PwC), Mal Berisha (Albanian Ambassador to UK) and Neil Jameson (Chief Executive of Citizens UK).
Shpresa is an organisation, founded in East London in 2003, which endeavours to enable Albanian-speaking people living in the UK to play a ‘full and active role in their communities’. It was established in the wake of the difficulties experienced by Albanian speakers-many of whom sought asylum in Britain from Kosovo after being persecuted during political conflict in the Balkans during the 1990s-adjusting to and integrating into British society. Since its inception, Shpresa has developed an impressive teaching and support network and now boasts its own building in Canning Town, as well as six full-time staff and forty-five volunteers. The organisation is pushing for an Albanian language GCSE to be made available in order to protect the culture of Albanian speakers in the UK.
Speaking afterwards, Stephen said: ‘Shpresa has long been a beacon for the Albanian speaking community in East London, and a fine example of what a user-led organisation can achieve in providing the essential skills for people to integrate into British society. I am here today to celebrate Shpresa’s success, and to support their campaign for the establishment of an Albanian language GCSE qualification. This step would help to protect the cultural heritage of a community which has contributed so much to Britain.’