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Cash-strapped Indians in UK hunt for food

Hundreds of Indian students who come to Britain to pursue courses in colleges are unable to find part-time work to fund their stay and studies here and have been forced to eat in gurudwaras in Southall.

world Updated: Dec 01, 2009 02:14 IST

Hundreds of Indian students who come to Britain to pursue courses in colleges are unable to find part-time work to fund their stay and studies here and have been forced to eat in gurudwaras in Southall.

There has been a three-fold rise in the number of Indian students coming to the UK since the points-based immigration system was introduced in April this year.

Many of them come in the hope of finding work so that they can maintain themselves here.

A BBC Radio 5 documentary found that such students were desperate when they cannot find work. They were also reluctant to return to Indian for the shame that will follow.

Many such students flock to the gurudwaras in Southall for free food.

The documentary, broadcast yesterday, quoted Nitin Walia, a student who has sought refuge at the gurudwara, as saying: “I can’t afford to rent a room, I’m borrowing money from relatives at home just to buy my bus fare to college. I will only be able to rent a room if I can find a job, if I can’t find one I will return to India.”

“But that will bring great shame. I don’t know how I will return the money I have borrowed.”

Didar Singh Randhawa, President of Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Southall, said a combination of recession and a surge in the number of students is changing the local landscape.

“We see hundreds of students hanging out in the streets, but there could be thousands,” he says.

“Most come here every day for food. We are happy to provide food. But they also ask for accommodation.

“If they don’t find anything we provide them with shelter, for a day or two. We can’t keep them for longer. We are hearing that some are sleeping rough.”

Last week the Donal MacIntyre programme revealed that the number of student visas granted in India and Bangladesh has tripled since the new points-based immigration system began in April.

(With agencies input)