This thesis highlights the role played by non-formal education in the lives of Iraqi community members who participate in the activities offered by London’s Iraqi-British cultural centres. The key aims of this thesis were; to research, document and analyse London’s Iraqi community and their experiences of non-formal learning within Iraqi cultural centres; and to establish the extent to which they found their participation in this non-formal learning empowering, both at an individual and community level. Many studies have been conducted into the lives of newly arrived communities. Generally, these studies tend to focus on their early years in the UK and the issues they face in rebuilding and re-establishing their lives. However, from my literature searches I identified what appears to be an overall lack of research which focuses on the UK’s established Iraqi community. To this end, the findings of my study seek to address this gap in our knowledge and research into the lives of Iraqis in the UK and in diaspora globally, particularly relating to their non-formal learning needs. I have also included information which focuses on historic Iraqi-British links within this thesis, to contextualise the Iraqi community presence in the UK. Utilising an interpretive research methodology, this thesis involved conducting in-depth qualitative research interviews with a group of respondents drawn from London’s Iraqi community, utilising social capital and social empowerment theory approaches, and reporting the unfolding stories of eight respondents who participate in, and facilitate, non-formal learning within these centres. The key themes arising from my research included; social capital maintenance, widening participation through social media and live-streaming technologies, the role played by pedagogy and how gender, age and social background shape participatory patterns in the centres’ learning activities. The findings of this thesis aim to highlight the importance of multicultural research, social empowerment and social capital, including bonding social capital, bridging social capital, linking and imagined social capital. In particular, these findings highlight the unique stories and accounts of the Iraqi community’s engagement with non-formal learning in London, with the intention of providing an enriched understanding of the Iraqi community’s educational needs to academics, educators, community organisers and policy makers. In doing so, the thesis seeks to provide a clearer picture of Iraqis in diaspora, the challenges of integration they face and how society can empower them through education to improve their bridging social capital and integration with other communities and the wider global society.

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