This blog forms the first in a series focussing on the stories of some of these people who, with LHA London, were able to live their own London life, study in some top colleges/universities and gain valuable work experience amongst London’s business hub.
Since first established in 1940, LHA London has provided affordable accommodation for civil servants, young working people and students. We decided to put the word out to our sites that we were interested in finding out more about our past residents. We wanted to see what made them stay with LHA London? What they achieved after they left? How did they benefit from their experience with us?
We got back in contact with Anup Acharya over 13 years after he first volunteered with us at Belsize house. On a trip back to the UK, he decided to re-visit the site where he dedicated his free time as a volunteer in exchange for a bed, breakfast and dinner. Amazingly, he recognised the manager and assistant who were with the company during Anup’s first stay, with whom he agreed to be the first feature in our LHA London Life Stories series.
Q: How long ago was it you spent time with LHA and were you a resident or did you do some volunteering too?
Anup: I arrived in London on 31st Jan 2001 and on the 3rd day I came to Belsize House to start living there in a dorm of 3 and it was fantastic living there. Firstly, I like the atmosphere that I felt when I entered and was so happy to live in a multi-cultural environment with multiple languages spoken. Actually, I came to London to study and later I started doing volunteering there as a night porter, but also as a chef on Friday’s when the chef was off. I even worked as kitchen porter and as house keeper during my stay there.
Q: Wow, so you pretty much covered every role during your time at LHA. So how long did you stay with us? Did any part of the experience, either from working at LHA or just being in London develop you in anyway?
Anup: Of course, yes. I learnt to become independent as I had never been away from my home and family before. It taught me to be an independent and stronger person, I remember crying before with how much I missed my family but being able to party with multi-nationals was very exciting to experience and helped me. I was able to make friends who encouraged me in lots of different ways.
During my time at Belsize House, I went to film companies and interviewed to do stunts in action movies. There were so many places in central London I visited and I felt proud to be part of a family of Belsize House. I will always miss Renato, Linda and Mr Clough.
Q: That’s really good to hear that you remember your time here so positively. So what have you been doing since leaving LHA and London?
Anup: After I left London in 2006, I came back to Nepal, my home country, to start looking after my Dad’s business. My dad started a school in 1980 and is still running it, there are currently around 1’000 students in attendance from play-group level to bachelor level. I really want to visit Belsize again as unfortunately last time I couldn’t stay longer and managed to keep missing Renato when I visited.
Q: How are you finding your new work as a challenge? Quite different from preparing Belsize’s friday fish & chips in London I expect?
Anup: Yes, definitely though I am missing London’s fish and chips! I came back for my graduation. So I landed in Edinburgh and, after finishing my graduation ceremony, I came back to London out of nostalgia to refresh my memories. It was just a shame my wife and son couldn’t come with me, if I come again I want to bring my wife and son too.
Q: Probably the only English food you do miss. It’s great that you were able to make such close friends there. Renato spoke positively of you when arranging this interview, he tells me you also have something to do with an orphanage?
Anup: Oh yes God has given me every fortune but there are loads of children who are deprived of so many opportunities so, to bridge the gaps they are experiencing, I have started an orphanage to give them the facilities they don’t have. God has given me everything so I need to look after society and such amazing kids they are too. Me and my friend from Italy started the orphanage.
Q: That’s incredible! How many children is the orphanage looking after there at the moment?
Anup: At the moment there are 16 kids, 8 boys and 8 girls, aged 5-14.
Q: What kind of facilities do you help the children with?
Anup: Lodging, food, schooling, recreational activities etc.
Q: What inspired you to spend your time and efforts into helping these children?
Anup: Well I have always wanted to do this since I was in London as I realised the rights of children while I was here. I wanted to do many things but no one had any interest. So a few years ago I found a friend whose thoughts and wishes were similar in this matter and we started all the procedures to starting an Orphanage. Finally we got it started though with lots of trouble in corrupted government office. It was my mums wish too that I help people in as many different ways as I could.
Q: Is there anything you would say to current LHA volunteers and residents as advice?
Anup: You have a wonderful opportunity to learn the system and culture of London as well as learn about countries from all over the world through the many nationalities that reside in each hostel, especially Belsize House. As a volunteer you have a great opportunity to save money and start a career in London.
Q: Thank you Anup for taking time out to answer these questions, all the best for the future!
You can follow the progress of the orphanage on facebook by searching Service Centre For Bright Future (logo below)
If you are a past resident, volunteer or employee who would like to get in touch and discuss your time at LHA London and how you’ve since developed in your career, please register your interest in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org