Cardiff’s close-knit Somali community is a vital part of the city’s diversity. Cardiff’s Somalis retain a strong sense of identity and live largely in the Grangetown and Butetown areas, close to the old docks. Cardiff had one of the first mosques in the UK.
Strong young men who could work in the very hot stokeholds of coal-powered steamships were in high demand at the end of the 19th century. The British protectorate of Somaliland supplied many such young men to work on British ships. Cardiff at that time was a thriving coal port. No surprise then that a trickle of Somalis began to settle in Cardiff in the 1880s, slowly building a community around the dock area.
The founding community of ex-seafarers and their families was boosted by an influx of refugees from other parts of Somalia over the last thirty years. The refuges were fleeing a wave of civil wars and lawlessness in Somalia and naturally gravitated to established Somali communities in the West.
Although the Somali community undoubtedly enhance diversity in the Welsh capital, there have been problems of assimilation and unemployment. Low expectations are a problem of young Somali youths. Unemployment and poor housing are seen as pernicious problems for the Somali community, which affect Somali youth through lack of positive role models, poorer health and poverty.
The cultural, generational and sometimes language barrier between Somali parents and Somali young people is also seen as a major problem.