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Stories for Change

"Stories for Change" is a photography exhibition on EU citizens' journeys, identity and belonging by Carolina Henriques and Linda Nagy.


In Stories for Change, Carolina Henriques and Linda Nagy explore new narratives and ways of storytelling involving EU citizens living in London. Complex and non-linear migration stories are captured through series of photographs seeking to understand lived experiences and identities by shifting the focus from portraits to objects, places and spaces that shape our stories and sense(s) of belonging in the UK and beyond. What one sees are visual fragments of life trajectories, amplified by extracts from interviews with participants discussing themes of journey, belonging, and identity.

The aim of their project is to better understand the lived experiences of EU citizens living in London and to represent them through objects, places and spaces. When you look at these stories, you won’t necessarily know the name, age, nationality, gender, ethnicity or occupation of participants. Instead, you will see their surroundings, the places they cherish, the things that have special meanings to them, and fragments of their life histories in their own words, which reveal more about who they are.


Through this method, Carolina and Linda seek to normalise migration and humanise migrants in order to divert from some of the existing narratives used in public discourse that often put migration and migrants into certain boxes and reduce them to stereotypes.

Carolina and Linda met through the Stories for Change campaigning programme of the3million - which aims to have EU citizens’ voices heard directly by the media and policy makers, raising EU citizens’ issues and bringing our community together - and connected over their shared interest in migrant justice, passion for photography and experiences as immigrants in the UK that sparked the idea for this collaboration.


Click on one of the images below to jump to a story:

​Photography: Linda Nagy



I think I geared towards London as well because my brother already lived here. Even though I'd been to London before and I've visited my brother, it's not that I knew
London very well, but at least I was like, if I do end up moving to London, then at least I have someone there that I already know.

The main thing that was so stressful was that there was a Brexit deadline – if I didn't move before that deadline, I wouldn't be able to move to the UK, just because I believe
my salary was too low and the work that hired me, they wouldn't be able to help me with a visa. So that's why I moved during the pandemic.


The second thing that was so difficult was my work was constantly asking me for my National Insurance number, which I didn't have, and I didn't understand how to get one
because whenever I called, they were saying you need to do this in person, but we're not seeing anyone in person. It was so confusing because I didn’t know what this number meant, and I didn’t know why I couldn’t get it or what to tell my work because I didn’t really know how it all worked.


Home for me is people. My sister lives in Berlin, even though Berlin is not my home, when I go to her, it does feel like home. My brother feels like home. And my parents, they live in the Netherlands, but from this year, they will be living in Spain as well. So even though Spain is not my home, but, you know, if my parents are there, then it's home. So it's really just people, and it's not so much a place because even though London isn't my home, it does feel like home.

I think because I've started to build a life here. I have my work here, everything feels
normal. Even though sometimes I still feel like a tourist, even though I'm not, but I know how to do things here... like arranging appointments with your GP or being part of the NHS, going to the dentist. Like all those things that you do in your normal life, feel, you know, normal. I don't have Dutch bank accounts anymore, I just have UK bank accounts.


I have nothing left in the Netherlands, my whole life is here. So I feel like that's why this feels like home.


The one thing that I really miss - and this is going to make me sound so Dutch - is the fact that I can't just cycle to my friends' house. Even though I’m so happy I can actually cycle to my brother's house in London, it’s a 20-minute cycle. But in the Netherlands, it's so normal.



I don't really refer to myself as an immigrant, just because I still feel like it sounds so negative. Obviously, some people do have a very negative experience but it doesn't mean that for everyone it's negative. I feel like it's very empowering and I feel like it really enriches your life, and especially if you move to bigger cities – especially London, you meet people from all over the world.


When I applied for jobs here ... I always ask how international the team is, because if you're surrounded by a group of just British people, I feel like a lot of times they don't understand that you're not from this country, and so a lot of references and things like
that you don't understand at all. If there's one thing that I wish that they knew was to sometimes be a little bit more inclusive of people that might not understand certain things here.


I definitely feel European and I feel like just because I travel to Europe relatively frequently to see my sister or see my parents, going through that extra step of security or that extra border control just makes me feel so much more European. I think it's when travelling that I definitely feel more European than ever. And it's weird, because I've never felt that before... but it holds so much weight in the UK now.


​Photography: Carolina Lima Henriques



I think it is also to do with the fact that I now feel less at home back home than I do here. So, kind of perhaps, when I go back and visit my family, I do feel like they’re always asking me: “Do you know where you are going? Do you know which tram you have to take?” And like “yes I’ve lived here for like 30 years, I do know.”


And I think it’s to do with what makes you feel at home, I think it’s the friendships that you manage to make or keep, so I think that has been a really important aspect for me.


I've been really lucky, I think that I have been able to find good friends here and establish relationships. And I think, for me, it is the travelling that I do and the work that I do in Turkey. I'm going to come back here. I think that also in a way kind of like contributes to the sort of feeling that I've established a home here and I go somewhere else for work.



At first I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to come to such a big city as London. Switzerland is quite small, cities are quite small and sort of a bit more accessible, so that was a bit challenging in the beginning sort of navigating that and navigating friendships or people — everyone lives in a different corner of the city and you never get to meet up.


So I think coming here to study was a really good decision because you kind of automatically make friends with people you study with. And I’ve always found that British people and Swiss people share a lot in terms of, kind of like culture and the way that we talk. And sort of a culture of, you know, self deprecation, and the kind of humour is very similar. So I find it quite easy to sort of fit in and in that sense. So that was definitely an easier thing to do than I had expected.



I would describe myself as an immigrant or a migrant, but since it’s not really that recent, I think my migrant experience obviously, that was, like 10-12 years ago, when I first came here, but I would definitely describe myself as an immigrant still, probably always will, I think.

There was a lot of moving around in my family, my father grew up in Spain, and then he moved to Switzerland, with quite difficult circumstances, under the Franco regime, and then moved away from that. On my mom’s side, also, there’s some moving around across Europe. So that’s kind of like family identity, in a way. So, I quite identify with not just being from one particular place.


I think decision makers need to see migrants as people and it definitely feels like that is not the case anymore. Regardless of where people are coming from, there's definitely a really strong shift in language about people, and obviously, more so by people from outside of Europe than I think from European countries, or well, okay, that's not entirely true, Central and Western Europe. I think Eastern Europeans or southeastern Europeans are also treated really badly by the current government. It’s sort of this idea that we're not people and that we're only here to take your jobs, take your women, whatever it is, take your benefits.


​Photography: Linda Nagy


I actually chose the UK in a sort of random way because I was looking for good places with good university and I met one of the most important professors in my field who was actually working in the UK. So before that, I wasn't really considering the UK.


The difficult part of moving at 30 or so to a new city as big as London is that you feel extremely alone at the beginning. It's really difficult to recreate a new group of people, to have somebody who you can call when you’re tired or when there is a problem.


My way of finding home was to meet with other Italians. After now it's four years that I'm living here, I feel at home when I’m in London actually, so now for me London is my place.

And yeah, actually what I created after COVID was a sort of an aggregation point in my house with my girlfriend and friends – most of them are Italian but also because of the type of job of my girlfriend and what I do we have a lot of also other nationality coming and a lot of UK people.


I love to cook, I like to make dinner where I invite people and we do small parties so this is what it feels to have sort of a home, a nest, a family to me at the moment. I'm a millennial and I am surrounded by people who are in their 30s, we just got out of relationships or don't want a relationship, so I think that London let us to have this kind of hybrid family that would be really difficult to have somewhere else.


I always think of this word in Italian that is ‘extracomunitario’, that means from outside of the European community. And then I actually understood that I became a sort of extracomunitario as well.


So yeah, I tend to forget about that but when I think about myself, yes, I'm an immigrant, a privileged immigrant actually, because I'm European and also came at the right moment, before Brexit, so I got the pre-settled status etc.

Because of this connection, I have a lot of Italian friends who are coming after Brexit, and I tried to help them to sort out their visa.


I can really see how privileged I was because I didn't have to actually fit into a category of a student or work visa but at the end I'm planning to try to apply for the British citizenship and to have dual citizenship. I mean I will never lose my European citizenship, but if I can also have the UK one, that would be great.

Immigrants are running the NHS. I mean, I can only talk about what I saw, and there are a lot of British people in the NHS, they are brilliant and they are great, but pretty much 80 per cent of the nurses and 50 per cent of the doctors were from somewhere else in the world and the NHS is a real melting pot.


People need to understand that how the world is working now is also and mostly thanks to highly qualified immigrants that we are losing at the moment because it's really difficult to come here and work for the NHS.

​Photography: Carolina Lima Henriques


Prior to coming to the UK I was living in Denmark, which is where I was born and raised. I came here because I got accepted to a university and I decided to start there.


I think had it not been for the academic appeal of the United Kingdom, I wouldn’t really have thought to come here, especially not at the age of 19 which I believe I was when I moved.


So yeah I moved in September 2020, which was before the EU pre-settled status cut off, meaning I have that.


I applied to universities in multiple cities in the UK, but I think London was the most appealing to me because it seemed the most international. So I’m not sure whether I really was aiming to move to England or more specifically to London.


I think the quite short distance between Denmark and England maybe also took away some of the stress and meant that I wasn’t as worried about how different it would be as maybe if I’d been moving farther away. Also I was comfortable with the language, so I think that helped as well.


The difficult part of moving at 30 or so to a new city as big as London is that you feel extremely alone at the beginning. It's really difficult to recreate a new group of people, to have somebody who you can call when you’re tired or when there is a problem.


While I did grow up in Denmark, both my parents are of mixed background. I would say I had a quite international upbringing in Denmark.


I went to a Russian-speaking school, but even there because my family wasn’t Russian Russian – I mean some people place a lot of emphasis on that – just quite often in many situations I felt that I’m on the margins of some group, you know, living in Denmark but then wasn’t speaking Danish at home, went to a Russian-speaking school but my family was not ethnically Russian, so I think coming to London did give me a sense of belonging.


Not necessarily because I feel like I belong but because I see so many other people who don’t belong, many people who just came here out of interest or for a job.


And then, I think also the international aspect of London has helped me feel that I belong because I can interact with communities, including my own, but also foreign communities in a way that just wasn’t possible in Denmark, because it’s too small, they don’t have the events, the holidays, the restaurants, things like that.


Another thing is libraries, which I found as a student in London, because there are so many specialty libraries, particularly regional ones or thematic ones, like a feminist library but I also have access to some national archives of other countries and somehow those things just end up in London I guess, but yeah that’s another thing that helps me kind of hold on to my cultures.


I recently went to France by train with a friend and went there from the UK and I hadn’t expected to feel as strongly as I did. I was really shocked by how much closer to Europe I felt by being in France, coming from the UK, which is interesting because, I mean, before I always thought of the UK as being European and surely, I can see some cultural similarities, but I don’t know if it’s the work culture or the overall capitalist sentiment in the UK but I definitely felt like being in France was more European. It kind of did reignite this feeling of being European within myself.


Personally, I’m a huge fan of the EU, so I would definitely say that I see myself as European as well. That’s not to say that we’re all the same. I think there are big differences as well but if you look at bigger countries as well there are huge regional variations, but I don’t think that is something that necessarily stops it from being some kind of group.


I wish maybe that people recognised that it takes a lot, that there are so many steps to migrating – there’s getting the idea, coming to terms with it yourself, figuring out how it’s feasible and how to do it, there’s the actual trip, settling in and integrating. There are so many steps to it.


I have already moved to the UK two times. My first move was in 2017, to my ex-partner, whom I met on the Internet and he was also Hungarian.


Some of my old friends already lived here, so it was relatively easy to get along, there were always helping hands for me.


Though my first year out here was quite difficult, as all I knew in English was ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The house where we lived with my ex-partner, everyone was Hungarian, and we were able to help each other with many things.


In March 2020, COVID and lockdown came, so we decided to leave everything behind and to move back to Hungary. My granny lived in a care home, so we had her apartment for us. It was very hard, I felt like I belonged nowhere... our relationship really started to deteriorate, my ex became aggressive, he wanted to isolate me from my parents and friends. Later it turned out that he suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder, and we broke up in November 2020.


In summer 2021 the UK government lifted travel restrictions, so I just decided to move back to London. Was I afraid to go back to the UK alone? No, the pre-settled status gave me confidence and I also had my COVID vaccinations. My friends who stayed in the UK informed me that many companies are looking for new employees. As soon as I moved back, I was able to get a job.

​Photography: Linda Nagy


Well sometimes even I can't decide, but I like being here because I can be who I am. So at home, for example, it was a problem that I was a rocker, wearing boots, things like that.


But here you are praised for it, for example today I was complimented at work for my clothes.


So it's a more accepting environment here, and I've never been made to feel that I'm just a migrant or an immigrant or anything like that, I can be myself, and it's OK that my English isn't perfect.


I still like to use the Hungarian language obviously, now I want to work more on improving my English, but I like speaking Hungarian, I like Hungarian food... What's good here is that it gives me a sense of security, I don't have to think about what to buy or not to buy at the end of the month.


I like to go home to Hungary, I have my favourite places, shops etc. in Szeged, but after a while I would miss England/London.


I like being alone and I enjoy my freedom. I started to get to know London better, and I don’t feel that people would treat me like an immigrant.


I am studying in college because my English still needs improvement, but I can communicate, even incorrectly. I feel lucky that I was able to return and that at least I have my presettled status. I am still a little bit worried about my absences, but I hope that I will get my settled status later on. I will do everything to stay in the UK, and to build myself a better life.


I am a migrant in the sense that I have changed my place of residence and my country, and I don't think I regret it for a moment.


Granted, if I could go back in time now, I would do many things differently. I wouldn't have moved home, for example... but then there was my narcissistic ex-partner - I was afraid to leave him because he made me believe that London was not for me.

And then I thought how nice it would be for us to be at home in our own flat, but you see, it didn't work out.


But now for the second time I feel much better out here. I don't feel like a migrant. OK, maybe it's that I can't speak English the way people who were born here speak it. Apart from that, it's also good that I was able to find a job here in one day, for example.


I won't, I don't want to forget where I came from... I still consider myself Hungarian, I might not become a British citizen, or who knows. I've grown a lot, I've experienced a lot here, I've become more confident and I've become more accepting, .... and the exposure to new cultures and new environments and interactions have helped me to see new things and grow.


And it's good to see or learn something new every day. Whether it's a new English word or a new place I find here. Also, the challenges and difficulties I have experienced during migration have shaped my personality.

​Photography: Carolina Lima Henriques


I came to London on holiday, I was probably in my very late teens, sort of 19-20-ish. I had been living in Denmark for 7 years, and came to London and just fell in love with London, partly because people spoke English and also because it was so mixed culturally.


I finished my bachelor’s degree, and decided I was going to come here for six months but I decided to stay on thinking I’d stay on for another year. And that is now 25 years ago.


I’m half Danish, half Nigerian, I was born in Denmark, moved to Nigeria, when I was three – obviously that was my parents so that wasn’t my choice. And then as a teenager at age 16, I moved back to Denmark, which I wanted to do, but it still was something that my dad had to help me to do, so it wasn’t quite my choice, I guess.


But moving to the UK was, and in the 25 years that I’ve lived here, I moved to Hong Kong at some point and live there for a year. And then I moved to China and lived for a year and a half before coming back to the UK. And this was in the period of 2011 to 2013.


Being half Danish, half Nigerian, and having lived in both countries, I do feel that I’m both of those, I belong to both places. Because I was immersed in the culture, I spoke the language, ate the foods, danced to the music, had family and so on. I don’t feel like I belong to one or the other.


With the UK, the UK is now the place I have lived longest in my life. I’ve almost lived twice as long in the UK as anywhere else.


But I don’t feel British, I still don’t feel British. I used to go to Denmark quite often, when I first came and after I’d been in Denmark for a few days, I would actually miss the UK or miss London and so it was my home in that way, in that sense that when I was away, I’d come back and feel like I’d come home. But when I’m here, I don’t really feel like it’s my home in a funny way.


I mean, I live here and I have my home here, but I guess because I’m not English or British, I don’t feel like I belong in that way. Although, having lived so long here as an adult, I struggle with some things when I go back especially to Denmark, but also to Nigeria. Because London has its pros and its cons. It being multicultural, it can cater to both of my cultures, so I can find a sort of European culture here and I can find the African one, which is quite special in a way.


Whereas before, I saw myself as Danish, I really see myself as European as an identity. And I would say, I was Danish, which was part of Europe, and I used to get really irritated at British people who called Europe ‘Europe’, because I was like, well, Britain is Europe, you know, there’s no difference.


Even being here, I felt I was still in Europe, but Brexit just meant that really big split. So now it does feel separate with Britain and Europe. So I sort of feel I’m European, and even more so because it feels like we’ve been rejected. So I’m holding on to that and wanting to retain that identity and not lose it and sort of feeling rejected by Britain in that way. But also more European in terms of more of a united Europe.


So back to the UK, where, post-Brexit even though my life as it is, hasn't really changed as such, having to go through and apply for the permanent residence, which I did before getting the settled status. That was really difficult for me and that was such a difficult process, in terms of trying to track down all the paperwork and things like that. And because I've lived in Hong Kong and China, there was a question mark about if I even would have my residence, but I did.

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